Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Upstairs Room

Without setting out to do so, I read three Newbery Medal or Honor books in the second half of 2013.  I didn't read them aloud to my children.  I read them as part of my own pleasure reading. Never underestimate the quality, the story-telling, or the depth of children's literature. 

{For what it's worth, I thought The Wednesday Warsby Gary Schmidt was superb, One Crazy Summerby Rita Williams-Garcia was good, and  From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweilerby E. L. Konigsburg was only mediocre.}

As part of this year's Sisters Book Challenge, Kati recommended I read The Upstairs Roomby Johanna Reiss which was a Newbery Honor book in 1973.  Despite starting it on a hectic week, I zipped through it in two (busy) days. 

The Upstairs Room is an autobiographical account of the author's time spent hiding with her older sister for two years in German-occupied Holland. While the book is packed with fact, it reads like a story. There are well-developed characters, and natural dialogue is included.

"Annie" recounts the boredom of passing the days as quietly as possible while staying away from the windows.  She tells about the monotony of never feeling fresh air in her nostrils.  She recalls the joy of being allowed to join her host family for a risky meal in the downstairs dining room. 

While this was a book written for children (in fact, the author wrote it as a record for her own daughters), I would hesitate before putting into the hands of someone too young.  The book includes a bit of language, mostly spoken by the rough, yet loveable, farmer who houses the girls.  The subject matter could be a dicey for young children also, but while the author does mention the concentration camps, she does not address either in intimate detail.


  1. You're on a roll this year! I, on the other hand, haven't even started any!

    1. I set a loose goal for myself to read one of the challenge books per month. There were so many from the 10 that I wanted to read that it was a little overwhelming at first. Now my OCD brain is content because I've penciled in a month next to the ones I want to read. :-)

  2. This sounds like a book I would enjoy. I'm adding it to my list. Thanks!

    1. It's relatively short, too, so it's an easy read to check off.


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