When Ruthie visits her grandmother, she discovers a partially burned prayer book in a box her grandmother has saved from her life in Germany before she came to America. Ruthie learns for the first time that her father had been born in Germany, as well. She asks him to tell her more about his past but he is reluctant to share painful memories. However, when she urges him, he tells her his story.
He tells of a time when the Nazis spread hate and his friends would no longer play with him. Ruthie learns about non-Jewish children taunting Jews, Jewish businesses being forced to close, Kristallnacht, arrests, escapes, and obtaining visas to leave for America.
The prayer book Ruthie found, says her father, had been retrieved from the ashes of a synagogue burned down by the Nazis. It symbolizes to him his connection with his past and it evokes memories, both good and bad, of his former life. He had treasured it once but later put it away as he tried to forget and move on.
Excellent sepia-toned drawings of life in the Germany of the era accompany the text and the story is powerfully and sensitively told. This is a good introduction to the Holocaust for ages 8 and up.