Thursday, July 1, 2004
Pressler, M. 2003. MALKA. New York: Philomel Books. ISBN 0399239847
[Suggested Grade Levels 7-10]
SUMMARY and ANALYSIS
MALKA is the true story of a young Jewish girl living in Poland during the World War II
era. Her mother delays leaving Poland because she mistakenly believes her skills as a doctor save her from military cruelty. Eventually, Malka's mother escapes hastily with her two daughters. The family is ill-prepared for the journey across the mountains that divide Hungary and Poland. As a result, Malka becomes gravely ill midway through the journey to freedom. Malka's mother chooses to continue on with her older daughter and send for Malka later. The decision haunts Malka and her mother for the rest of tale. Malka is sent to the streets because the family hiding her is literally scared to death for their own safety. Malka must find her own food and shelter to survive the horrible times. She stares death in the face on a daily basis as a seven-year-old child. Ultimately, Malka's mother returns for her, and the two are reunited. This cannot be too happy of an ending when readers ponder the damage that has been done to the poor, abandoned daughter.
Ms. Pressler tells an unforgettable true story about Malka and her journey to
freedom. The time period is portrayed with haunting accuracy. Readers feel the
fear of the people hunted down with unbelievable cruelty. Readers also empathize
with those who hid the Jewish families. The reality of being scared to death to help
others is depicted well through rich descriptions and dialogue. Perhaps, the most
compelling issue in the tale deals with the mother's choice to leave her youngest child
behind. This is the issue that meets Malka and her mother at night in their dreams.
This remarkable story is an unforgettable one about prejudice, survival, and
Young adults can discuss the mother's choice to leave her youngest daughter
behind during their escape from persecution.
Young adults can role-play different characters portrayed in the story. Malka, the mother,
the sister, church members, and Jewish sympathizers are just a few suggestions of
characters that may be used for role-play situations.
Other books by Pressler that can be compared with this one in terms of the Jewish plight during the World War II era:
ANNE FRANK: THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL -- THE DEFINITIVE EDITION. ISBN 0385473788
ANNE FRANK: A HIDDEN LIFE. ISBN 0141312262
HALINKA. ISBN 0805058613
By Laura K. Davis