Elvina, the funny, feisty, 12-year-old granddaughter of the great rabbi Rashi, knows how to read and write, which is very rare for a girl of her time. She draws strength from this, as well as from her guardian angel, to whom she speaks constantly. Then one cold Sabbath afternoon, while Elvina is alone in the house, three soldiers pound on her door. One of them is wounded. Elvina has only a moment to make a difficult choice that could put her family and the entire community at risk. Can her guardian angel guide her now?
Winner of the Prix Sorcieres, France's most prestigious award for children's literature, this is a story of compassion and tolerance that speaks to people of all faiths.
Translated by Gillian Rosner.
"An intriguing take on the experience of being Jewish in Europe in 1096." (Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books)
"[B]rings to life a smart, wise, bold, and insecure 12-year-old who relies on her 'mazal', her guardian angel, for advice." (Na'amat Woman magazine)
"Readers don't have to be Jewish to appreciate this beautifully written story and it's wonderfully realized characters and fascinating setting. Lovely." (Kirkus Reviews)
I've read several historical novels of this period in which the Jews were treated as pariahs. When I saw this story, told through the eyes of a 12 year old girl, the granddaughter of a famous rabbi, I was immediately attracted. The conflicting emotions that Elvina feels are told skilfully by the author (a niece of Simone Weil) and interpreted brilliantly by the narrator. This is a beautiful tale that should not only be read by the target audience of 10 to 15 year old girls, but by anyone who enjoys a heartwarming message. It shows that reaching out to understand and help someone who is very different from oneself brings unexpected blessings.
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