The Second World War was a time of terrible injustices. It was also a time of incredible bravery. My Canary Yellow Star is the remarkable story of one of the last century’s greatest heroes, Raoul Wallenberg, who was responsible for saving as many as 100,000 lives.
Young Marta’s life in Budapest has been shattered by the war. First, her school closes. Jews are prohibited from attending classes. Then her father, along with other able-bodied men, is arrested and sent to work digging ditches on the eastern front. The family’s apartment is confiscated, and Marta, her brother, and her mother must share cramped space with her aunt and cousin. Food, warm clothing, and any kind of personal freedom have all but vanished.
Jewish life becomes more and more confined as the old people, women, and children are forced into the ghetto. From there, the next step is the waiting cattle cars and the concentration camps. But Marta’s family is lucky. They are numbered among those who could be saved by the efforts of Raoul Wallenberg.
Among the few points of hope was this extraordinary Swedish diplomat. Raoul Wallenberg issued papers to thousands of Jews, declaring them to be Swedish citizens. Wallenberg was questioned by the Russians after the war and disappeared, possibly to die in Siberia. An international movement has been in place for decades to press Russia for news of his fate. Although details of his death remain a mystery, he has come to represent courage and justice in the face of great evil.
“…[a] moving, atmospheric story…Girls will be drawn to courageous Marta, her romance, and her indomitable spirit.”
“[My Canary Yellow Star] is not just a welcome addition to Holocaust fiction but an extraordinary novel in and of itself.”
–Books in Canada
“Wiseman…uses a dispassionate first-person narrative voice that doesn’t sensationalize the horrors of the occupation of Hungary. At the same time she leaves readers in no doubt about the fear and desperation felt by Jews as the Nazis stepped up their campaign of extermination.”
–Quill & Quire
“How Marta and her family adapt, the details of their daily lives, their hopes, fears, embarrassments, and dangers are portrayed with vivid poignancy…These ingredients and more are woven together in a fast paced story line focusing on Marta’s determination, true grit, and, on occasion, sheer luck. My Canary Yellow Star is a dynamic, nail-biting read.”
–Ottawa Jewish Bulletin
“…what makes this story different…is that Marta remains a typical teenager…[My Canary Yellow Star is] a suspenseful account of a period of great suffering and injustice…”
–Winnipeg Free Press
“…goodness and bravery in the midst of unspeakable evil makes this story an inspiring read.”
Eva Wiseman is herself from Hungary and has spent many years researching her book on Raoul Wallenberg. She is the author of A Place Not Home, selected to the New York Public Library’s Best Books for the Teen Age List. She now makes her home in Winnipeg.
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