Kirkus Reviews QR Code
EMIL AND KARL by Yankev Glatshteyn


by Yankev Glatshteyn & translated by Jeffrey Shandler

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-59643-119-9
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Glatshteyn presents an unstintingly stark depiction of Nazi terror in this story, set in Vienna shortly after the German occupation. Originally published in Yiddish in 1940, Glatshteyn’s work tells of Christian Karl and Jewish Emil, inseparable friends, who have only each other after their mothers are carted off by the authorities. How they survive on their own, sometimes with the aid of partisans, often despite casual or intentional cruelties, makes for a wrenching account laced with humiliation, horror, fear, paranoia and incredible courage. Written in spare and readable, though choppy and not always realistic, prose, and filled with some surreal imagery that emerges from the boys’ viewpoints, the tale will engage young readers in the friends’ plight and their race against time and circumstance. In a poignant conclusion, Emil and Karl are separated while attempting to board the Kindertransport trains to safety. The translator’s afterword explains that this is one of the first novels written about the Holocaust in any language and for any age. (Fiction. 10+)