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.