Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Run, Boy, Run

Run, Boy, Run

Uri Orlev
Historical Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Houghton Mifflin, 2003   ISBN: 978-0618957064

Srulik Frydman is only eight years old but he has already lost so much. His family was forced to leave their home and their village, and they are now struggling to survive in the ghetto in Warsaw. One day, which scrounging for food in garbage cans, Srulik gets separated from his mother. Not having any idea what his address is, Srulik wanders the streets until he meets up with, and then joins, a gang of homeless boys.

Srulik and his new friends survive by shoplifting by day and by stealing from shops at night. They have to be careful that the Germans do not catch them, and when they hear that there is going to be a "roundup" of Jews in the city, the boys decide to flee into the countryside.

In the confusion of the escape Srulik ends up alone again but at least he is out of the city. First he takes up with another gang of homeless boys who live in the forest much of the time, and who steal from farmers when they can. Then he goes from farm to farm working for food and shelter. He has to be careful whom he approaches and he learns to pretend to be a Christian refugee. On no account should he let anyone know that he is a Jew.

Briefly, and while he is on the run, Srulik meets up with his father. Her father tells him to "stay alive," "forget your name," and "never forget that you're a Jew." Doggedly Srulik does his best to do what his father tells him, but the trials he faces are sometimes so terrible that it is hard to keep his promise.

Based on the true story of a Jewish boy living in Poland during World War II, this is a powerful tale that will both move and appall readers. Today it is hard to imagine that any child could suffer so much and still have the will to survive. And yet Srulik did just this. He kept on going and was finally able to build a new life for himself.

Written with great honesty and without a superfluity of words, this title won the 2004 Batchelder Award. In this superb book Uri Orlev pays a powerful tribute to the lost children who roamed the countryside in Europe during World War II. In 1996 the author was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his contribution to children's literature.