Mode

kid

parent

Masters of Silence

by: Kathy Kacer  

Ages

10+
Helen doesn’t know what to do about Henry. He hasn’t said a single word since they arrived at the convent to hide from the Nazis. But Marcel Marceau knows what to do. Who knew silence could say so much? 
Ages 10+
Pages 272
Publisher Annick
Coming Apr 2024

Average Rating

21 Reviews
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What the Book Is About

Alternating chapters follow German Jewish siblings Helen, fourteen, and Henry, ten. Their father has been taken by the Nazis and their French-born mother, desperate to keep them safe, has brought them to a convent in France. Like the other Jewish children there, they must assume new identities and pretend to be Catholic orphans. Both children are afraid and overwhelmed, but Henry especially so; rendered mute, he pours all his thoughts into a secret notebook. A bright spot in their lives is when a teenage mime named Marcel Marceau visits the convent to entertain the children. Marcel teaches Henry how to mime–a skill that becomes crucial for their survival when Marcel leads the children on a six-day journey to the Swiss border. This is a suspenseful yet ultimately uplifting story. 

Jewish Content & Values

  • Set during the Holocaust, the story includes many examples of antisemitism, but also Jewish and non-Jewish characters who practice chesed (loving kindness), risking their own lives to protect the children. 
  • Helen uses the church services to pray the Hebrew blessing Papa would recite over her and Henry on the Sabbath
  • Marcel tells them he is the son of a Jewish butcher, and that he is a member of the Resistance. An author’s note details his acts of courage. 

Content Advisory

This Holocaust story contains no graphic details or violence. Most of the suspense is fairly tame, with the scariest moments occurring when the Nazis come to the convent and when Marcel and the children run into Nazis in the forest. One of the nuns is discovered to be Jewish and is taken by Nazi soldiers; readers don’t learn her fate or that of the children’s parents, so there is no upsetting outcome within the book. 

The brave and caring character of Marcel Marceau saves the book from being overwhelmingly sad.

What This Book Is About

What the Book Is About

Alternating chapters follow German Jewish siblings Helen, fourteen, and Henry, ten. Their father has been taken by the Nazis and their French-born mother, desperate to keep them safe, has brought them to a convent in France. Like the other Jewish children there, they must assume new identities and pretend to be Catholic orphans. Both children are afraid and overwhelmed, but Henry especially so; rendered mute, he pours all his thoughts into a secret notebook. A bright spot in their lives is when a teenage mime named Marcel Marceau visits the convent to entertain the children. Marcel teaches Henry how to mime–a skill that becomes crucial for their survival when Marcel leads the children on a six-day journey to the Swiss border. This is a suspenseful yet ultimately uplifting story. 

Jewish Content & Values

  • Set during the Holocaust, the story includes many examples of antisemitism, but also Jewish and non-Jewish characters who practice chesed (loving kindness), risking their own lives to protect the children. 
  • Helen uses the church services to pray the Hebrew blessing Papa would recite over her and Henry on the Sabbath
  • Marcel tells them he is the son of a Jewish butcher, and that he is a member of the Resistance. An author’s note details his acts of courage. 

Content Advisory

This Holocaust story contains no graphic details or violence. Most of the suspense is fairly tame, with the scariest moments occurring when the Nazis come to the convent and when Marcel and the children run into Nazis in the forest. One of the nuns is discovered to be Jewish and is taken by Nazi soldiers; readers don’t learn her fate or that of the children’s parents, so there is no upsetting outcome within the book. 

The brave and caring character of Marcel Marceau saves the book from being overwhelmingly sad.