Cover image for The devil's arithmetic
Title:
The devil's arithmetic
Author:
Yolen, Jane.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Puffin Books, 1990.

©1988
Physical Description:
170 pages ; 20 cm
Summary:
Hannah resents the traditions of her Jewish heritage until time travel places her in the middle of a small Jewish village in Nazi-occupied Poland.
General Note:
"Ages 12 up"--Jkt.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
730 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.6 6.0 6998.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.1 8 Quiz: 03030 Guided reading level: Y.
ISBN:
9780140345353
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"A triumphantly moving book." -- Kirkus Reviews , starred review

Hannah dreads going to her family's Passover Seder--she's tired of hearing her relatives talk about the past. But when she opens the front door to symbolically welcome the prophet Elijah, she's transported to a Polish village in the year 1942. Why is she there, and who is this "Chaya" that everyone seems to think she is? Just as she begins to unravel the mystery, Nazi soldiers come to take everyone in the village away. And only Hannah knows the unspeakable horrors that await. A critically acclaimed novel from multi-award-winning author Jane Yolen.


"[Yolen] adds much to understanding the effects of the Holocaust, which will reverberate throughout history, today and tomorrow." -- SLJ , starred review

"Readers will come away with a sense of tragic history that both disturbs and compels." -- Booklist

Winner of the National Jewish Book Award
An American Bookseller "Pick of the Lists"


Author Notes

Jane Yolen was born February 11, 1939 in New York City. She received a bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1960 and a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1976. After college, she became an editor in New York City and wrote during her lunch break. She sold her first children's book, Pirates in Petticoats, at the age of 22. Since then, she has written over 300 books for children, young adults, and adults.

Her other works include the Emperor and the Kite, Owl Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and The Devil's Arithmetic. She has won numerous awards including the Kerlan Award, the Regina Medal, the Keene State Children's Literature Award, the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Taking a risk, Yolen blends elements of fantasy and adventure with intense images of concentration camps, manipulating them into an unusual coming-of-age story. Bored by the lengthy Passover service and impatient, cranky, and slightly tipsy from her first taste of ceremonial wine, 12-year-old Hannah opens the door to the prophet Elijah as tradition dictates, expecting to see only an empty hall and the apartment across the way. Rather, she is swept into the past, back to 1942, where she becomes-- instead of selfish, petulant Hannah from modern day New York-- Chaya Abramowicz from Poland, soon to depart on a journey toward extermination. An interweaving of detail and recurring imagery mark Hannah's passage from the 1980s to a tiny Polish village, to a crowded boxcar, to an unnamed camp. The scenario is brutal. Its characters convincingly drawn to type: Gitl, fierce, wise, gentle, who laughs in the face of terror; Rivka, a tough survivor with an unshakable faith in God; and Hannah/Chaya, petulant child, denying her heritage, then sacrificing herself for another. Yolen's time-travel scheme is cleverly orchestrated; her plot fits together like a carefully cut puzzle. And while some teenagers will be more caught up by its tidy perfection than by the horror Yolen seeks to convey, they will still come away with a sense of tragic history that both disturbs and compels. An afterword gives further shape to both the history and Yolen's personal feelings. Gr. 8-12. SZ.


Publisher's Weekly Review

When 12-year-old Hannah is transported back to a 1940's Polish village, she experiences the very horrors that had embarrassed and annoyed her when her elders related their Holocaust experiences. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8 In this novel, Yolen attempts to answer those who question why the Holocaust should be remembered. Hannah, 12, is tired of remembering, and is embarrassed by her grandfather, who rants and raves at the mention of the Nazis. Her mother's explanations of how her grandparents and great-aunt lost all family and friends during that time have little effect. Then, during a Passover Seder, Hannah is chosen to open the door to welcome the prophet Elijah. As she does so, she is transported to a village in Poland in the 1940s, where everyone thinks that she is Chaya, who has just recovered from a serious illness. She is captured by the Nazis and taken to a death camp, where she is befriended by a young girl named Rivka, who teaches her how to fight the dehumanizing processes of the camp and hold onto her identity. When at last their luck runs out and Rivka is chosen, Hannah/Chaya, in an almost impulsive act of self-sacrifice, goes in her stead. As the door to the gas chamber closes behind her, she is returned to the door of her grandparents' apartment, waiting for Elijah. Through Hannah, with her memories of the present and the past, Yolen does a fine job of illustrating the importance of remembering. She adds much to children's understanding of the effects of the Holocaust, which will reverberate throughout history, today and tomorrow. Susan M. Harding, Mesquite Public Library, Tex. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.