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Yellow Star (novel) facts for kids

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Yellow Star
Yellow star.jpg
Author Jennifer Roy
Country United States
Language English
Genre Historical fiction
Published 2006 (Marshall Cavendish)
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 227 pp.
ISBN 978-0-7614-5277-5
OCLC 61162378
LC Class PZ7.R812185 Yel 2006

Yellow Star is a 2006 biographical children's novel by Jennifer Roy. Written in free verse, it depicts life through the eyes of a young Jewish girl whose family was forced into the Łódź Ghetto in 1939 during World War II. Roy tells the story of her aunt Syvia, who shared her childhood memories with Roy more than 50 years after the ghetto's liberation. Roy added fictionalized dialogue, but did not otherwise alter the story. The book covers Syvia's life as she grows from four and a half to ten years old in the ghetto. Syvia, her older sister Dora, and her younger cousin Isaac were three of only twelve children who survived. After the war, Syvia moved to the United States, married, and only much later told her story to Roy. Since its publication in 2006, the book has received multiple awards, starred reviews, and other accolades, and has been made into a likewise well-received audiobook.


Yellow Star is the outgrowth of Sylvia Perlmutter Rozines' recollections of life in the Łódź ghetto. Perlmutter Rozines, then Syvia Perlmutter, was a four and a half year old child when she and her relatives were confined to the ghetto in late 1939. The ghetto was liberated the day before she turned 10: more than half her life had been lived in the ghetto. The book relates the events of those five and a half years, as an adult Sylvia recalled them years later. The title derives from the yellow badge that Syvia was forced to wear.

More than 50 years after the events described in the book, Perlmutter Rozines began telling her story to family members, starting with her son, Roy's cousin Greg, who told Roy's sister Julia, who told Roy. Roy tape recorded the conversations between herself and Perlmutter Rozines, and used those conversations as the basis for the book.

Yellow Star is written in free verse, after Roy struggled with how to authentically express Perlmutter Rozines' experiences to children in a way that did not seem stiff or detached. Roy cites Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal -winning Out of the Dust as an inspiration for the book's voice. Roy edited Perlmutter Rozines' various recollections together into chronological order, and penned narrative introductions to each chapter describing the war's events outside the ghetto. While the book is substantially based on Perlmutter Rozines' recollections, it is classified as historical fiction since Roy included fictionalized dialogue.


In 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland and forced that nation's second-largest community of Jews, 270,000 strong, into one section of the city of Łódź, which they later walled off to form a ghetto. Before the invasion, Syvia and her family lived in Łódź. When her father heard rumors of the impending German invasion, the family traveled by buggy to Warsaw. The family was unable to find work or housing in Warsaw, so they returned to Lodz. When the Germans did invade, they forced Syvia's family to relocate, along with other Łódź-area Jews, into a segregated section of the city: a ghetto. The book relates Syvia's explanations of what life in the ghetto is like: her friends, people around the ghetto, jobs, and her schedule. It relates how Syvia's family is forced to sell her doll, leaving her with rags and buttons as her playthings.

When the other Jewish children were sent to Chelmno, Syvia's family smuggled the children from cellar to cellar. The book also relates tragic events: one of Syvia's friends disappears, and another is killed and burned in an extermination camp. The ghetto is liberated one day shy of Syvia's tenth birthday, on January 19, 1945. Syvia, her older sister Dora, and a younger cousin, Isaac, were three of only twelve children who survived.


An extensive "Author's Note" details the fate of the people Syvia interacted with in the Ghetto, including how the survivors in her immediate family settled initially in Paris. Afterwards, she emigrated to the United States, Americanized her name to Sylvia, married David Rozines (another Holocaust survivor), and settled in upstate New York as Sylvia Perlmutter Rozines. As of 2006, Sylvia, now widowed, had moved to Maryland, and volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She gave a videotaped interview to the Shoah Foundation, which records the personal recollections of Holocaust survivors.

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