Thursday, January 24, 2008


Peet, Mal. 2007. TAMAR. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763634889 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

When Tamar is fifteen, her grandfather, the one who named her, commits suicide. He leaves her a box of memorabilia from World War II and she knows that somehow, the box is full of clues as to the person he was and the reason he killed himself. She embarks on a quest, both physical and emotional, to discover what it all means.

Told in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of Tamar and an omniscient narrator, the grandfather’s story emerges, the tale of a Dutch resistance fighter. Tightly woven into the plot are intricate details of the Dutch resistance during Nazi-occupied Holland. The narrators go back and forth in time as the past and the present connect, inter-connect, and re-connect in this well-plotted novel. Gradually, the secrets of the past unravel to an unexpected climax. This winner of Britain’s 2005 Carnegie Medal is a complex story for the older reader.

This challenging novel is recommended reading for an AP or IB literature/history study. The well-constructed novel would be a good choice for a literary study, but the integration of World War II events make it a strong contender for social studies, too. Or pair it with Anne Frank’s DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL to show two aspects of the war years in Holland.

Other novels about the Holocaust for older teens:
Weisel, Ellie. NIGHT. ISBN 9780374500016
Zusak, Marcus. THE BOOK THIEF. ISBN 9780375831003

By Janet Hilbun

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