Twelve-year-old Rivke Rosenfeld fills the Warsaw Ghetto with her stories in 1941. Orphaned, she lives with her grandfather and two sisters, trying to eke out a living within the brick-and-barbed-wire confines of the ghetto. She writes her diary between the lines and in the margins of a book of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum asks her to contribute her diary to his Underground Archive, a collection of documents he is assembling so the world will one day know the everyday lives of those within the ghetto. As a storyteller, Rivke meets other well-known personalities of the ghetto, including Dr. Janusz Korszak, an educator and children’s author.
Author Sydelle Pearl was inspired to write this novel when she saw part of Dr. Ringelblum’s secret stash and imagined how a young girl’s diary could make its way there. Although the she may overuse the metaphor of words as wings, the book showcases Pearl’s highly-honed storytelling skills; she customizes tales to give hope to those in the ghetto. The narrative suffers from a contrived plot, though, and when Rivke writes her diary within the Andersen book, Pearl meanders from one folktale to another.
Barbara Krasner is an award-winning poet and historian who focuses her writing on the Jewish experience in America and during the Holocaust. She teaches in the history department of The College of New Jersey and serves as Director, Mercer Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Education Center.