My Childhood and the Second World War
Alona Frankel
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 08/29/2016
ISBN: 978-0-253-02241-7
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Alona Frankel was just two years old when Germany invaded Poland. After a Polish carpenter agreed to hide her parents but not her, Alona's parents desperately handed her over to a greedy woman who agreed to hide her only as long as they continued to send money. Isolated from her parents and living among pigs, horses, mice, and lice, Alona taught herself to read and drew on scraps of paper. The woman would send these drawings to Alona’s parents as proof that Alona was still alive. In time, the money ran out and Alona was tossed into her parents’ hiding place, at this point barely recognizing them. After Poland’s liberation, Alona’s mother was admitted to a terminal hospital and Alona handed over to a wealthy, arrogant family of Jewish survivors who eventually cast her off to an orphanage. Despite these daily horrors and dangers surrounding her, Alona’s imagination could not be restrained. A powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit, Girl is the story of a young girl’s self-preservation through a horrible war and its aftermath. Faithful to the perspective of the heroine herself, Frankel, now a world renowned children’s author and illustrator, reveals a little girl full of life in a terrible, evil world.

Author Bio

Alona Frankel was born in Krakow, Poland, in June of 1937. After surviving World War II, she immigrated to Israel in 1949. Alona has written and illustrated over 50 children's books, including the international best seller Once Upon a Potty. Her books have won numerous prizes, including several Parents’ Choice awards.


“Girl is the story of a young girl’s self-preservation through the horrors of World War II and its aftermath. In hiding among pigs, mice, and lice, Alona taught herself to read and drew on scraps of paper. Frankel, now a world renowned children’s author and illustrator, reveals a little girl full of life in a terrible, evil world.”

“Alona Frankel’s Girl has enthralled me from its very first pages. What a rare experience! My own survival of the Holocaust (I was a young boy, a little older than Alona) inevitably, turned me into a hypersensitive reader. Books that 'feel wrong,' trite or inconsequential, books that indulge in any form of sentimentalism, of self-pity or moralizing—put me off. On the other hand, Frankel swept me away. I found her writing astonishingly musical, imaginative, visual and poetic, always powerful. And her pages of heartbreaking tragedies, or stories of human resilience, contain a sense of sad irony, which distances her from the gentleness of Anne Frank’s diary, but brings her much closer to the planets of Primo Levi or Marcel Proust. Girl is a timeless signpost in the canon of great literature.”
 — Samuel Bak, Painter and author of Painted in Words

“A new Anne Frank...What a tribute to the human spirit that a little girl, subjected to the utmost cruelties, and forced to be aware of the frailty of her existence, should have survived to become a talented writer and illustrator, her imagination, artistic spirit and eloquence speaking to the whole world about lessons we must never forget.”
 — Baroness Ruth Deech, DBE, House of Lords

“A wonderful contribution to the canon of Holocaust literature—the story of a hidden child that is told with indelible images and tender words.”
 — Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Stranger Within Sarah Stein and The Golems of Gotham

“An extraordinary voice and view of a hidden-child in Poland during the Holocaust and of her daring return to life afterward.”
 — Berel Lang, author of Primo Levi: The Matter of a Life

“One of the qualities that makes this book so remarkable is its author’s honesty, her remembrance of terrible things past which, despite everything, did not destroy her.”
 — The Washington Times

“Stands out for its powerful writing and the author’s resilience. . . . [Frankel] writes with sensitivity and unforgettable detail”
 — The Jewish Week

“Alona Frankel’s memoir, described as being “faithful to the perspective of her younger self,” is more mannered and even, at times, poetic.”
 — Times Literary Supplement

“Frankel tells her story simply and with wry grace.”
 — Jewish Book Council

“An impressionistic memoir of a Polish Jewish girl's survival hiding as a Gentile in Nazi-occupied Poland. What lifts this beautifully understated narrative above many other admirable efforts are Frankel's gift for visceral detail and trained eye as a novelist. . . A truly moving and bravely rendered memoir.”
 — Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Reading Girl is an unforgettable experience. The horror of the Holocaust—“the heavy, viscous fear of death”—seeps into every page. Yet, what remains by the book’s end isn’t the horror of human evil but the good of the human heart. It’s young Frankel as a girl who befriends rats and mice while in hiding, who celebrates the miracle of life in unspeakable conditions. It’s a little girl in hiding who ultimately finds “beauty that needs nothing else.””
 — ForeWord Reviews

“Nowhere in the book does the girl who learned to hide and stop crying ask us for pity or compassion. These feelings come by themselves, and from the best place an artist can find—the power and quality of the book. . .[Frankel has a] talent for storytelling that gracefully ignores conventions. It is wonderful to be able to write a book like Girl—it is the best book I have read this year! I would like to see it in the windows of bookstores all over Europe, and quickly, so everyone will know how great it is.”
 — Ynet, Ariana Melamed

“A very wise, sensitive, wonderful book.”
 — Haim Be'er, author of Feathers and The Pure Element of Time

“I warmly recommend this important and beautiful girl.”
 — Yaron London, an Eliav-Sartawi Common Ground Journalism Award recipient

“Perhaps Alona Frankel, who has never cried, writes to enable herself to cry, or to become visible rather than invisible; to bring into being that girl whose creativity and rich vision were blocked and strangled. But there is more to this book than the story of a persecuted childhood, for hidden behind the events is a conflict between the forces of darkness around her and the forces of light; between pessimism and lack of love and the ability to illuminate the world with her inner strength and her longing for beauty.14”
 — Hannah Hertzig, Haaretz

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