The Yellow Bird Sings

Flatiron: Macmillan. Mar. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781250179760. $25.99; . f;.
DEBUT As Nazis descend on Poland, rounding up Jews and sending them to concentration camps, Roza and five-year-old daughter Shira survive by hiding in the barn of a grudging neighbor. To stay safe, they must stay still. But musical prodigy Shira shimmers with music, so Roza tells her the story of an enchanted garden where a yellow bird does the little girl’s singing for her: “The girl is forbidden from making a sound, so the yellow bird sings. He sings whatever the girl composes in her head: high-pitched trills of piccolo; low-throated growls of contrabassoon.” But the danger doesn’t abate, and soon Roza realizes that she must send her daughter away to save her. As Shira is hidden in plain sight at a convent, where violin training reveals the virtuoso she is to become, Roza vanishes into the forest, where she initially survives on her own and finally finds love and meaning at an encampment of Jewish resisters. But will she ever see Shira again?
VERDICT Memoirist and award-winning children’s author Rosner challenges the Holocaust with a touch of magic (the yellow bird appears throughout), clarifying a dangerous time and place even as she offers a vibrant, affecting portrait of the mother-daughter relationship. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.]

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