Tuky: The Sto­ry of a Hid­den Child

Shterni Rosen­feld, Jacky Yahri, illus.
  • Review
By – December 10, 2015

For sev­er­al decades, Ortho­dox Jew­ish pub­lish­ers refrained from pub­lish­ing Jew­ish children’s books about the Holo­caust; this book is a wel­come entry to the field. It illu­mi­nates the stark con­trast in Hun­gary before and after the Ger­man inva­sion through the eyes of a young heroine.

Based on an actu­al per­son, Tuky is a six-year-old girl from a large, pros­per­ous, reli­gious Hun­gar­i­an Jew­ish fam­i­ly that teach­es its daugh­ters how to embroi­der, its sons how to dav­en, and all to cel­e­brate the Shab­bos. Their fam­i­ly begins to host refugees flee­ing from the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries invad­ed by the Ger­mans. Soon it will be Hungary’s turn. The country’s for­mer Ger­man ally has decid­ed that in the wan­ing days of World War II, Hun­gar­i­an Jews will be their next vic­tims. The Ger­mans invade and pro­ceed to round up as many Jews as pos­si­ble for slaugh­ter, but Tuky’s father has already arranged to split up his fam­i­ly and dis­trib­ute them to peas­ants whom he has paid to board them as relatives. 

The chil­dren are to mas­quer­ade as Chris­tians with new iden­ti­ties, new old clothes, and beds of hay shared with oth­er chil­dren in the fam­i­ly. Tuky, the eldest of the three youngest chil­dren, becomes respon­si­ble for her two lit­tle broth­ers, who are board­ed at the farm next door. She watch­es over them, but in a fit of tem­per, the youngest child gives away their cam­ou­flage and they are impris­oned. By using her wits, the amaz­ing Tuky saves her­self and her two younger broth­ers from sure death. She nev­er deserts her lit­tle broth­ers or Judaism, and she teach­es her broth­ers how to silent­ly say their prayers like their father. Despite close calls, hun­gry days, and wor­ry, they all survive.

Pref­ac­ing the sto­ry are intro­duc­to­ry pages pre­sent­ed as in a play, intro­duc­ing the main char­ac­ters, who are Tuky’s and her cousins’ fam­i­lies. The intro­duc­to­ry page pro­vides the Eng­lish trans­la­tion of the Hun­gar­i­an words that appear in the sto­ry. The print should have been slight­ly small­er, as it is the size used for younger children’s books. The illus­tra­tions are sim­i­lar to those in a graph­ic nov­el and there are some photographs. 

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 8 – 12.

Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

Discussion Questions