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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Intriguing MG WWII Novel Sheds Light on Plight of Ukrainian Child Slaves

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Lida Ferezuk isn't Jewish, but that doesn't stop the Nazis from killing her parents and taking her and her younger sister captive.  Their crime?  The Ferezuks are Ukrainian.  According to the Germans, their country no longer exists.  They are now Russian and thus eligible to be put to work for the Nazis.  Even though Lida is only nine, she's forcibly separated from her sister and sent to a labor camp.  Knowing she must be useful in order to survive the upcoming ordeal, Lida lies about her age and vows to stay as strong as possible.

When Lida is ordered to work at a bomb factory assembling explosives for the Nazis, she sees an opportunity to finally fight back against a cruel and vicious enemy.  With eyes on her all the time, it's a huge risk that could cost her her life.  Already weak from starvation and wracked with fear, does she dare to put what little she has left on the line?  If her plan fails, she'll lose everything, including the chance to ever see her sister again.  

Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is a harrowing middle grade novel based on the real Ukrainian slave raids that occurred during World War II.  I didn't know much at all about this topic, so it was interesting to read about it.  Disturbing, but fascinating.  Lida makes for a sympathetic narrator.  It's impossible not to root for her as she tries to help those around her, looks for beauty in even the darkest places, and longs for a reunion with her beloved sister.  The story moves along swiftly, ensuring a quick, exciting read that's as informative as it is interesting.  While Making Bombs for Hitler didn't knock my socks off, I definitely found the novel a worthwhile read. 

Readalikes:  Reminds me of other middle grade WWII novels, including The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen; Number the Stars by Lois Lowry; and Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I borrowed a copy of Making Bombs for Hitler from my daughter's elementary school library.


  1. Another aspect of WWII that you never hear anything about. Did you ever read Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys? That also deals with a part of WWII that no one ever talks about.

    1. I know. I'd never read anything about Ukrainians in WWII. Yes, I've read BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY. I wasn't all that wild about it, although I've loved Sepetys' other books.

    2. I didn't love the epilogue ending in that one, but I found the whole Lithuanian side of things during WWII really interesting...and sad.

  2. Hard topic for a middle grade book.

    1. Definitely, but I like how this one gets the horror of the situation across without being too graphic for middle grade readers.

  3. I don't know much about this topic either. Might have to check it out. Great review!


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