It's Jewish Book Week so it seems the right time to review Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli. Milkweed is a young adult book set in Poland during the second world war. The book is written from the point of view of a loveable, kind and yet very naive nameless orphan running wild around the streets of Warsaw. He's not quite aware of what's going on in Europe or in his country. He doesn't know if he's a Jew or not. When he sees Jews running on the streets, he thinks it's a race. He's attracted to the beautiful uniforms of the 'Jackboots' or Nazis, not quite suspecting that they're the enemy. When the Jews are rounded up to go to the ghetto, he believes it's a magical place and he wants to go with them. He's befriended by Uri an older boy who gives him the name of Misha Pilsudski and invents a Gypsy past for him to protect him from the knowledge that he's a Jew.
Jerry Spinelli is an award winning author and he writes Milkweed in a concise, simple and sparse style. He succeeds on many levels to produce a work that's at once touching but also harrowing. Milkweed is a unique story about innocence and survival.