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Milkweed

Cover of Milkweed

Milkweed

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He’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham. He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he’s a boy who realizes it’s safest of all to be nobody. Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable—Nazi-occupied Warsaw of World War II—and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young orphan. “Narrator Ron Rifkin uses a gentle, somber voice that fits the reflective recollection of the main character’s flashback into time. His nuances help readers laugh in all the right places.”—AudioFile YALSA Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults

He’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham. He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he’s a boy who realizes it’s safest of all to be nobody. Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable—Nazi-occupied Warsaw of World War II—and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young orphan. “Narrator Ron Rifkin uses a gentle, somber voice that fits the reflective recollection of the main character’s flashback into time. His nuances help readers laugh in all the right places.”—AudioFile YALSA Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults

Available formats-
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    3.6
  • Lexile:
    510
  • Interest Level:
    LG
  • Reading Level:
    7 - 12

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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the book

    1

    MEMORY

    I am running.

    That's the first thing I remember. Running. I carry something, my arm curled around it, hugging it to my chest. Bread, of course. Someone is chasing me. "Stop! Thief!" I run. People. Shoulders. Shoes. "Stop! Thief!"

    Sometimes it is a dream. Sometimes it is a memory in the middle of the day as I stir iced tea or wait for soup to heat. I never see who is chasing and calling me. I never stop long enough to eat the bread. When I awaken from dream or memory, my legs are tingling.


    2

    SUMMER

    He was dragging me, running. He was much bigger. My feet skimmed over the ground. Sirens were screaming. His hair was red. We flew through streets and alleyways. There we thumping noises, like distant thunder. The people we bounced off didn't seem to notice us. The sirens were screaming like babies. At last we plunged into a dark hole.

    "You're lucky," he said. "Soon it won't be ladies chasing you. It will be Jackboots."

    "Jackboots?" I said.

    "You'll see."

    I wondered who the Jackboots were. Were unfooted boots running along the streets?

    "Okay," he said, "hand it over."

    "Hand what over?" I said.

    He reached into my shirt and pulled out the loaf of bread. He broke it in half. He shoved one half at me and began to eat the other.

    "You're lucky I didn't kill you," he said. "That lady you took this from, I was just getting ready to snatch it for myself."

    "I'm lucky," I said.

    He burped. "You're quick. You took it before I even knew what happened. That lady was rich. Did you see the way she was dressed? She'll just buy ten more."

    I ate my bread.

    More thumping sounds in the distance. "What is that?" I asked him.

    "Jackboot artillery," he said.

    "What's artillery?"

    "Big guns. Boom boom. They're shelling the city." He stared at me. "Who are you?"

    I didn't understand the question.


    "I'm Uri," he said. "What's your name.

    I gave him my name. "Stopthief."


    3


    He took me to meet the others. We were in a stable. The horses were there. Usually they would be out on the streets, but they were home now because the Jackboots were boom-booming the city and it was too dangerous for horses. We sat in a stall near the legs of a sad-faced gray. The horse pooped. Two of the kids got up and went to the next stall, another horse. A moment later came the sound of water splashing on straw. The two came back. One of them said, "I'll take the poop."

    "Where did you find him?" said a boy smoking a cigarette.

    "Down by the river," said Uri. "He snatched a loaf from a rich lady coming out of the Bread Box."

    Another boy said, "Why didn't you snatch it from him?" This one was smoking a cigar as long as his face.

    Uri looked at me. "I don't know."

    "He's a runt," someone said. "Look at him."

    "Stand up," said someone else.

    I looked at Uri. Uri flicked his finger. I stood.

    "Go there," someone said. I felt a foot on my back, pushing me toward the horse.

    "See," said the cigar smoker, "he doesn't even come halfway up to the horse's dumper."

    A voice behind me squawked, "The horse could dump a new hat on him!"

    Everyone, even Uri, howled with laughter. Explosions went off beyond the walls.

    The boys who were not smoking were eating. In the corner of the stable was a pile as tall as me. There was bread in all shapes and sausages of all lengths and colors and fruits and candies. But only half of it was food. All sorts of other things glittered in the pile. I saw watches and combs and ladies' lipsticks and eyeglasses. I saw the thin flat face of a...

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine He can't remember anything before stealing food from street shoppers. People mistake him for a Jew, but he's really a Gypsy. Day by day Warsaw, Poland, becomes more dangerous as "jackboots" (Nazis) take over every aspect of city life. When this young boy is "adopted" by an adult street person, he learns about orphans, angels, carousel horses, and survival in this dark time in history. Ron Rifkin uses a gentle, somber voice that fits the reflective recollection of the main character's flashback into time. His nuances help readers laugh in all the right places, proving that even in the grayest landscape, hope and laughter can be found. J.M.S. Winner of 2004 ALA/ YALSA Recording (c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine
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    Not permitted
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    Not permitted
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    Not permitted
    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.
    OverDrive WMA Audiobook
    Burn to CD: 
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    Transfer to device: 
    Permitted (6 times)
    Transfer to Apple® device: 
    Permitted
    Public performance: 
    Not permitted
    File-sharing: 
    Not permitted
    Peer-to-peer usage: 
    Not permitted
    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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