Cover image for Good night, Maman
Good night, Maman
Mazer, Norma Fox, 1931-2009.
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, [1999]

Physical Description:
185 pages ; 20 cm
After spending years fleeing from the Nazis in war-torn Europe, twelve-year-old Karin Levi and her older brother Marc find a new home in a refugee camp in Oswego, New York.
Reading Level:
510 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 3.5 4.0 1969.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.9 9 Quiz: 20339 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



Karin Levi's world of family, school, and friends is torn apart when the German army occupies Paris in June of 1940. Karin and her brother, Marc, like Jews all over Europe, find themselves on the run, seeking safety wherever they can find it. When Marc obtains two coveted places aboard a ship bound for the United States, Karin knows that crossing the ocean means she may never see her beloved parents again. Yet she and Marc have little choice if they are to survive. Karin's unforgettable story--revealing the little-known world of a handful of European refugees in World War II America--tells of survival, of growing up, and of love's ability to endure even the most extraordinary circumstances.

Author Notes

Norma Fox Mazer was born in New York City on May 15, 1931. She studied at Antioch College and at Syracuse University. She contributed first-person articles to pulp magazines like True Confessions and True Story. Her first juvenile novel, I, Trissy, was published in 1971. She wrote more than 30 books during her lifetime including Dear Bill, Remember Me?, Summer Girls, Love Boys, and Other Short Stories, Silver, Out of Control, A Figure of Speech, and Good Night, Maman. She won numerous awards including a Newbery Honor in 1988 for After the Rain, an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1982 for Taking Terri Mueller, a Christopher Award, and an ALAN Award. From 1997 to 2006, she taught writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She died of brain cancer on October 17, 2009 at the age of 78.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-9. Miriam Bat-Ami's Two Suns in the Sky [BKL Ap 15 99] tells the story of the World War II Emergency Refugee Camp in Oswego, New York, from the alternating viewpoints of a local teenager and a young Holocaust survivor in the camp. Mazer's focus is on the Jewish refugee story, starting in Europe, where for two years Karin Levi and her older brother, Marc, are in hiding and on the run from their Paris home. Karin's father has been rounded up for Auschwitz. Her mother ("Maman") is ill, and, in a tearing parting, the children have to leave their mother behind if they are to get away. Karin tells of their escape by chance and luck, until, in 1944, they board the one refugee ship for the U.S. In Oswego they gradually settle in, go to school, make friends, learn to talk like "swell" Americans. Mazer writes with a simplicity that personalizes the history for middle-school readers, yet her research is never intrusive. Twelve-year-old Karin's first-person narrative is both direct and restrained about the survivor trauma, honest about the mixture of love, guilt, and jealousy between sister and brother. Always Karin is haunted by Maman; Karin writes letters to Maman and tries not to know that Maman is dead. No one in the camp wants to talk of the horror they left ("We all talked only about now. No sorrows. No sad stories"), and there are some very funny scenes in which Karin's American friend teaches her the New York way, even as Karin's grief for her mother nearly overwhelms her. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

This story of a WWII French-Jewish refugee suggests the grimness of the era without becoming too formidable for young readers to ingest. Indicating, but not dwelling upon her heroine's suffering, Mazer (When She Was Good) traces the 12-year-old's arduous journey to freedom. The Nazis have sent Karin's father to Poland, and the rest of the family lives in hiding in a French woman's attic. Soon, however, the arrangement becomes too dangerous and Karin, her older brother and their mother are forced to flee south. Maman falls ill and is unable to complete the journey; the children regretfully continue on their own, eventually gaining passage on a ship to America. The second half of the novel takes place in the same refugee camp in Oswego, N.Y., that served as the setting for Miriam Bat-Ami's Two Suns in the Sky (Children's Forecasts, May 17). While Bat-Ami's portrayal of the refugee camp has more depth, Mazer's writing is more fluid. Karin and her brother, Marc, struggle to overcome homesickness and begin a new life. Karin gradually lets go of the past, finally realizing that she will never see her beloved Maman again. The issues are somewhat neatened for the sake of young readers; this story may serve as an introduction to the Holocaust and its effect on survivors, but doesn't have the impact of other titles in this genre. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-A touching novel that begins in 1940 and ends in 1945. Mazer follows 12-year-old Karin Levi and her experiences first as a hidden Jewish child in France, next as a traveling refugee, and, finally, as an inmate in the displaced persons camp in Oswego, NY. After Karin, her mother, and older brother leave France, they stay with a kind man in Italy. When it becomes clear that they must flee, the girl's mother is too ill to continue, and the two siblings must leave her behind. Throughout the book, the child deals with her feelings of loss by writing her mother letters. Mazer captures the refugee experience as Karin travels from place to place in constant fear with no sense of belonging, until she finally settles in at Oswego. Although the prose occasionally becomes strained and even saccharine, such as when the girl refers to her family as her "beloveds," for the most part, Karin's voice is realistic. Despite everything she has been through, she has her moments of petty jealousy and preteen difficulties. However, when her brother finally tells her that their mother did not survive, she manages to overcome her grief and look to the future when they will live with their father's aunt in California. Libraries looking to expand the scope of their Holocaust literature will find this book a welcome addition.- Amy Lilien-Harper, Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.