Would You Salute? One Child’s Sto­ry of the Holocaust

D. Kel­ley Steele; Becky Hyatt Rick­en­bak­er, illus.
  • Review
By – November 11, 2011
Mar­got was a young, care­free girl, grow­ing up in Nazi Ger­many: she enjoyed play­ing with her friends and was a great ath­lete, excelling in ski­ing and swim­ming. Being an only child, she was espe­cial­ly close to both of her par­ents. Her father was Jew­ish and she would attend ser­vices at the syn­a­gogue with him but her Chris­t­ian moth­er would also take her to church. The dif­fer­ences in her par­ents’ reli­gious beliefs nev­er affect­ed Mar­got, until one day in school, her teacher speaks of Adolf Hitler and teach­es a spe­cial salute required from all the stu­dents. Oth­er changes slow­ly occur such as Mar­got acquires a new brown uni­form with a swasti­ka and views reg­u­lar march­es on the street. At first, Mar­got is excit­ed and copies the actions of her friends, and the nar­ra­tor of the sto­ry rhetor­i­cal­ly asks read­ers Would you salute?” Margot’s moth­er is astound­ed to see her daugh­ter in a uni­form and explains to her the true mean­ing of Hitler’s plan, then harsh­ly insists: Take those off now!” Mar­got con­tin­ues to feel heartache as the neigh­bor­hood chil­dren point to her and call her filthy Jew,” her father is no longer allowed to prac­tice med­i­cine, and her par­ents are often tak­en in for ques­tion­ing. Based on a true sto­ry, the author’s intent in shar­ing Margot’s dif­fi­cult past is to teach tol­er­ance and empa­thy to young stu­dents about the Holo­caust. Over­sized illus­tra­tions in mut­ed pas­tel tones real­is­ti­cal­ly con­vey the pain and agony of Margot’s fam­i­ly and help to tell this mul­ti-lay­ered sto­ry. Abi­o­graph­i­cal note and pho­tographs of Mar­got in Ger­many and the U.S., where she even­tu­al­ly immi­grat­ed with her moth­er, con­vey the full cir­cle of Margot’s life. This is a won­der­ful teach­ing tool and would be espe­cial­ly use­ful in a school library col­lec­tion. For ages 9 – 12.
Debra Gold has been a children’s librar­i­an for over 20 years in the Cuya­hoga Coun­ty Pub­lic Library Sys­tem. An active mem­ber of the ALA, she has served on many com­mit­tees includ­ing the Calde­cott, New­bery and Batchelder committees.

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