"When Tutti returned, she said, “Mammi, these stars are so the Germans can make sure we're following their rules, aren't they?"
"Yes, Mädchen. You're so smart."

Tutti Lichtenstern was an infant when her family left Germany in 1936. By then, the Nazis had been passing anti-Jewish laws for three years and had stripped Jews of their citizenship, so Tutti's family fled to the Netherlands. The Lichtensterns thought they’d be safe in Amsterdam, but four years later, they realized they hadn't moved far enough: on May 10, 1940, the Dutch army surrendered to the Germans, and Tutti and her family, along with all the other Jews, faced life-changing restrictions . . . and then, mortal danger.

In October 1943, believing that their newly acquired Paraguayan passport would protect them, the family came out of hiding; but they were nevertheless deported to Westerbork, a camp in the Netherlands, where Tutti’s father, a metals trader, made himself useful. The camp sorted metals for the Third Reich's war machine. With the help of a non-Jewish friend on the outside, Tutti's father not only protected his family but by increasing productivity helped save hundreds of his fellow Jews' lives by putting them to work sorting and—to stymie the Nazis—mixing up the metals. Eventually, though, the family was deported to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia.

With every page of this excellent novel of survival are stories about Tutti’s acts of bravery, friends who risked their lives for others, and poignant moments of selflessness and sweetness. The family’s secret signal, a loud five-note whistle, comes into play throughout the book, connecting the Lichtensterns to each other—at dramatic moments of separation and reunion—and to the reader.

Young readers will learn history through this personal story, which is told chronologically through short chapters. The fact that 75% of the Jews in the Netherlands perished makes this narrative even more remarkable. Each chapter is enhanced with photographs and documents, which add authenticity to this powerful account written by Tutti’s daughter. History comes alive in Fishman’s capable hands as a writer telling the story of her mother and achieving the family’s eternal desire to always remember.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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