Cover image for The upstairs room
The upstairs room
Reiss, Johanna.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins, [1991?]

Physical Description:
ix, 196 pages ; 22 cm
A Dutch Jewish girl describes the two and a half years she spent in hiding in the upstairs bedroom of a farmer's house during World War II.
General Note:
"Newbery honor book."
Reading Level:
380 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 2.9 6.0 143.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.9 12 Quiz: 12026 Guided reading level: NR.


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D810.J4 R42C Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D810.J4 R42C Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
D810.J4 R42C Juvenile Non-Fiction New Materials
D810.J4 R42C Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A Life in Hiding

When the German army occupied Holland, Annie de Leeuw was eight years old. Because she was Jewish, the occupation put her in grave danger-she knew that to stay alive she would have to hide. Fortunately, a Gentile family, the Oostervelds, offered to help. For two years they hid Annie and her sister, Sini, in the cramped upstairs room of their farmhouse.

Most people thought the war wouldn't last long. But for Annie and Sini -- separated from their family and confined to one tiny room -- the war seemed to go on forever.

In the part of the marketplace where flowers had been sold twice a week-tulips in the spring, roses in the summer-stood German tanks and German soldiers. Annie de Leeuw was eight years old in 1940 when the Germans attacked Holland and marched into the town of Winterswijk where she lived. Annie was ten when, because she was Jewish and in great danger of being cap-tured by the invaders, she and her sister Sini had to leave their father, mother, and older sister Rachel to go into hiding in the upstairs room of a remote farmhouse.

Johanna de Leeuw Reiss has written a remarkably fresh and moving account of her own experiences as a young girl during World War II. Like many adults she was innocent of the German plans for Jews, and she might have gone to a labor camp as scores of families did. "It won't be for long and the Germans have told us we'll be treated well," those families said. "What can happen?" They did not know, and they could not imagine.... But millions of Jews found out.

Mrs. Reiss's picture of the Oosterveld family with whom she lived, and of Annie and Sini, reflects a deep spirit of optimism, a faith in the ingenuity, backbone, and even humor with which ordinary human beings meet extraordinary challenges. In the steady, matter-of-fact, day-by-day courage they all showed lies a profound strength that transcends the horrors of the long and frightening war. Here is a memorable book, one that will be read and reread for years to come.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-9. Recalling her own experiences as a child in Holland during World War II, Reiss writes about two Jewish sisters who survive because a farm family risks their own safety to hide them from the Nazis. The sequel is The Journey Back.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this Newbery Honor book, Reiss writes a stirring, fictionalized account of her own experiences as a Jewish girl during World War II. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-The deLeeuw family, Dutch Jews, did not emigrate to the U.S. in time to escape the German Holocaust. However, friends kept them hidden during those turbulent years and they did survive the War. As presented in Johanna Reiss' novel, based on her own experiences in Holland during World War II, (HarperCollins, 1972), Annie, the young first person narrator, and her older sister must live in an upstairs bedroom belonging to a rough but sympathetic farmer and his family. Christina Moore capably uses a youthful voice to portray Annie. While she does not assume a false accent, she is able to read the Dutch names and the few Dutch words without hesitation. She makes slight voice changes for the different characters, and effectively portrays a variety of emotions. She changes speed frequently so that the tape does not become monotonous. An excellent choice to present the Holocaust to younger readers.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.