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The Upstairs Room
Johanna Reiss
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The Upstairs Room (The Upstairs Room #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,988 Ratings  ·  313 Reviews

A Life in Hiding

When the German army occupied Holland, Annie de Leeuw was eight years old. Because she was Jewish, the occupation put her in grave danger-she knew that to stay alive she would have to hide. Fortunately, a Gentile family, the Oostervelds, offered to help. For two years they hid Annie and her sister, Sini, in the cramped upstairs room of their farmhouse

Hardcover, 179 pages
Published February 26th 1980 by Bantam Books (first published January 1st 1972)
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Tiffany Wacaser
Jan 07, 2011 Tiffany Wacaser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this little book, but happened upon it at the library while my kids were at storytime. It is a true story of two Jewish girls who lived with a Dutch family, secretly, for two years at the end of World War II. The story is told from the younger girl's perspective and is related simply without excessive emotion or excessive explanations. Without embellishment you see the way events unfolded for the Jews in Holland as they faced uncertainty and then great fear when the Germans ...more
Ginny Messina
Jan 06, 2009 Ginny Messina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the author’s own story—-written for her children—-of what it was like to live in a single room for three years, hiding from the Nazis, and losing precious years of childhood. She was 8 years old when she went into hiding along with her teenage sister. Because she lived this story and is a fine writer, Johanna Reiss does an outstanding job of depicting what a life in hiding is like for a child, especially one who doesn’t quite understand what is at stake. She also portrays her protectors— ...more
Jungho L.
Dec 03, 2013 Jungho L. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Upstairs room was about a Jewish family during the Holocaust. They live in Holland when the war happens and they are forced to move away from their homes in order to be safe from the Nazi's. The family are split up later in the book and they go to other family's houses to hide from the Nazi. They are fortunate of not getting caught but they almost do. They survive the war and live happily every after.
I think this book was very fun to read because it was so well in detail. I felt like I was a
Sep 24, 2012 Sienna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another really great book for readers who are interested in World War 2 and the Holocaust. Although the story doesn't portray such a vivid picture of the horrors of the Holocaust such as The Diary of Anne Frank does, it's still a very interesting and powerful story. If you like learning about the Holocaust but not the really sad parts, this is the book for you! The story takes place in Holland and is the true account (or biography) of a young girl named Annie living during the time when ...more
Jan 30, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Taylor, Claudia
Shelves: kids-lit, memoirs
I did a book report on this in 5th grade, and was reminded of it when I read "Night" with my niece recently. I could not for the life of me remember the title, so I spent about an hour searching things I remembered from it all over the internet, and behold: the power of the 21st century brought this book back to me. I was as emotionally moved by it now as when I read it at age 10. But now I see the clever writing, how the sentence structure changes as the main character goes from age 6 to 13. Al ...more
Oct 07, 2010 Kirsten rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think because I have read many books about WWII--fiction and non-fiction alike, this book for me pales in comparison to them. It is definitely an easy read, and of course the subject matter is interesting, but I felt like nothing really happened. The author didn't adequately convey the despair those poor Jews must have felt at having to hide for so long. If the characters were more endearing, and their development stronger, I would have liked this book a lot more.
Jan 15, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thinking-books
I read this book for the bookclub I am in and to be honest, when I found out this was what we were reading this month I was a little dissappointed. This is why it is very important not to judge a book by it's cover (or title or blurb). It turns out this is a very good book, following the story of two Jewish girls who live in hiding. It was very eye-opening. And this is a true story, an autobiography which is totally breathtaking. I really enjoyed this book.
Jun 30, 2010 Becca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this to the kids for History as it's a story of a young Jewish girl who had to go into hiding in Holland during WWII. It's the author's true story and made very real through her writing. I loved the "Postscript" as the author shared her experience as an adult, taking her daughters back to Holland to see the house where she hid, meet the family that hid her, and see her old hiding place. It was emotional for me envisioning that.
Alexa SOF2014
Even though The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss is fiction it gave me great insight into live during World War II in Holland. Annie DeLeeuw was eight years old when the German army occupied Holland. She and her Jewish family are abused and prohibited from leaving the country. Annie and her sister Sini are hidden from the Germans by the Hannick family. Within a few weeks they move in with the Oostervelds a Christian family, who are very kind. Annie and Sini live with their huge family. Unfortunate ...more
Nov 07, 2014 Michelina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really good it had some cliff hangers that I really liked. I would recommend this book to any one who likes history books. This book has some sad parts,happy parts and nerve-racking parts. That were really good. Like when the Germans came to their house and the girls had to hide in the closet safe place. My favor part was when the family let the Germans use their house as a base when they also had Jewish girls living in the house.
There are all sorts of comparisons that can be made between this and Anne Frank's "Diary of a Young Girl". Both focus on Jewish girls who happen to be named Anne who are forced into hiding during WWII. I found I enjoyed this one more than "Diary". For some reason, I found I had a better sense of the hardships and fears with this one than the other. Maybe that is because this was written by an adult looking back on the experiences instead of a teen in the midst of the experiences. This one seeme ...more
Aug 19, 2012 Lindsay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book originally as a 4th grader. In undergrad, as a sophomore in a class called "Jews and Anti-Semitism," I did an Honors Option where my professor (noted Holocaust scholar Kenneth Waltzer) assigned us to investigate true-life Holocaust memoirs. I picked this book, since I read it to pieces as a child, and I liked the way it had a quasi-happy ending (something you don't often get from Holocaust stories). I also managed to find the author on the Internet and wrote her a letter, to whi ...more
Feb 20, 2014 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The upstairs room is about a girl that is Jewish and she is about 12 years old. The German war is going on, and she is hiding from the Nazis.
I don’t recommend this book I thought it was kind of boring but that’s my opinion. If you are looking for a book that you can just sit down and read, read this one.
I thought it was cool how they dyed their hair at the beginning of the story. I thought it was a good spot where they were hiding but I feel like they could have hidden better like in the walls
Linda Lipko
This is a 1973 Newbery Honor book, an American Library Association Notable Children's book, a Jane Addams Peace Association Honor book and a winner of the prestigious Buxtehuder Bulle German children's book award.

Taken from real-life experiences of the author, she tells the story of four years of confinement in a cramped attic room during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Eager to destroy the Jewish population, the Nazi's beat, brutalized and killed anyone willing to hide Jewish people.

Bravely, a
Taylor Drake
I read The Upstairs Room” which was historical fiction. In The Upstairs Room two sisters named Annie and Sini go into hiding when soldiers come to take Jewish people away. The girls hide in two different homes for two years. They have to leave their family behind in order to survive, because if they had stayed with them, it was more likely that they would be caught.
I think that the author’s purpose of the story was to create characters that show people what it was like for them during the Holoc
Allison Moore
This chapter book takes place during World War II in Holland. It centers around one Jewish family, and specifically one girl named Annie, and their struggles to stay safe from the Nazi party. Annie tells her story and illustrates how her living situations started to get worse and worse as time went on through the war. As the Nazi party was getting closer and closer to Holland, Annie’s family felt more and more fear come to them. Finally Annie’s father made the decision that they needed to go int ...more
Kara Cooney
This book is narrated by a six year old name Annie who lives in Holland. She lives with her father, two sisters, and a mother that is very sick. This book takes place during the Holocaust. Annie and her sister Sini are taken in by the Hannink family to hide from the Germans. The Hanninks are too concerned that they will get caught by the Germans; so, they move the Oosterveld's. Annie and Sini become very close with the Oostervelds. They had a couple of encounters when they were hiding in the bac ...more
Stephanie Huntsman
The Upstairs Room chronicles the lives of the members of the Jewish de Leeuw family while they were in hiding during the Holocaust, as told through the youngest daughter, Annie. When the novel began, Annie was just six years old, and it was the year 1938; the Nazis had not yet invaded Holland, but her father was concerned. He very much wanted to move his family to the United States, but his wife did not want to and kept claiming that she was not in good enough health. Eventually, the family had ...more
Jillian Dreixler
This novel is about a family in Holland when Hitler started taking over the world with his discrimination against Jewish people. This story is told from a young eight year old Annie de Leeuw has to hide in an upstairs room with her sister Sini, leaving their other sister and parents behind. Annie and Sini lived with the Oosterveld family, who do anything to keep them safe, even letting Germans make a headquarters in their kitchen downstairs. While Sini expresses that she needs to leave, both sis ...more
Lexy Mcomber
The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss wasn't the worst book I've ever read but it also want the best. The story being told was great but I think that someone could have gone over the book a little bit and helped out with grammar and things like that. I also understand that this was written by someone who's first language was not English.

I think of course the most important literary element in this book was the setting. It played the main and biggest roll in this book, seeing as it was about the hol
Apr 23, 2015 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so glad I decided to read Johanna Reiss' The Upstairs Room. This one has been on my list of books I needed to read for quite a while--over a decade at least. It is nonfiction--a biography--set during World War II. The author and her sister were Jews that hid for several years from the Nazis.

Readers meet Annie, the young heroine, and her family. She has several older sisters, a mother and father. The war changes everything for the family. The mother, who was close to death anyway--the Nazis
Hunter VanderWaal
The Upstairs Room

The book The Upstairs Room has little action and suspense. The author is trying to show what many Jews went through in hiding. This book is good for people who like a slow pace and detailed read.This book had a slow developing plot to the story .What struck me is how boring it would be in hiding during the Holocaust. When reading this book I wondered how many Jews decided they couldn't take the boring, fearful life and wanted to take a risk instead and live for hope. The author
Nikki Howard
This is the story of a little girl's perspective of the Holocaust. She was eight years old when the Germans took over Holland, so she went into hiding. She was taken in by another family just an hour away from her home. While she was separated from most of her family, she had one of her older sisters there with her for two years while they waited out the war. While they stayed positive about the end of the war coming soon, they weren't sure if it would come soon enough. They became very close wi ...more
Mary Beth
a. This book is about a young Jewish girl and her family during the Holocaust while living in Holland. Her family includes: herself (Annie), her two sisters (Sini and Rachel), her father, and mother. Eventually, the family has to split up to go into hiding, and Sini and Annie hide together with a family outside of their hometown. Will the girls make it while hiding or get caught by German soldiers? Will the family ever reunite?
b. The major themes in this book are hope, family, and helping mankin
(in realtà questa edizione ha 225 pagine, non 53)

Ho trovato questo libro in una lista di "banned books". La ragione era, mi sembra di ricordare, "violenza". Allora, se questo è un libro violento, è necessario bandire tutti i libri per ragazzi che trattano anche solo marginalmente il tema della seconda guerra mondiale e dei campi di concentramento. Le violenze sugli ebrei non vengono descritte dettagliatamente e la protagonista non vi assiste neanche, ma le vengono raccontate. Su un giornale clan
Sierra D
Oct 30, 2015 Sierra D rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was very good because it explained a lot about what she was going through. It was also about the Holocaust which I like to learn about.
Kirsa Emmons
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Crawford
Feb 03, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is about Jews in Holland slightly before and during World War II. The story centers around a family with one girl that's a teacher (Rachel), a younger sister (Sini), and the youngest sister, Annie. It goes into how people thought they were save where they were, and then how the Jews began to leave the area. Annie's mother is ill and refuses to leave, though, and this effectively traps the family in the area during the German take-over. This also happens to be the author's personal sto ...more
Nov 11, 2015 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Upstairs Room” by Johanna Reiss is a small novel mainly focussed on two Jewish sisters, Sini and Annie. During World War Two, these sisters are forced out of their hometown, Winterswijk, in order to live. They first find themselves in Usselo, where they live with the Hannink family, but soon they are moved to a new place where they reside with an interesting, but loving family. Spending days and months, which quickly turns into a year inside one room, the two sisters become closer than ever ...more
Jasmine Tucker
This book is a documentary based on author Johanna Reiss that's about a Jewish family that lives in Holland during the Holocaust. This story is told from a girl name Annie and her sister Sinai. Their family had escape from their town and split up to be protected and hidden from the Nazis. The little girls had to live in a upstairs room for almost 3 years. They experience physical, emotional and mental changes due to that lifestyle, but they made it to America in the end. This book's theme is abo ...more
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do you like it? 5 14 Nov 18, 2014 11:27AM  
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Dutch-born American writer presenting her Jewish childhood in the Netherlands during the Holocaust. The multi award-winning 1972 'The Upstairs Rooms', where she describes how she and her sister survived WWII in hiding, has remained a YA classic.

Her latest, 'A Hidden Life', is a memoir for adults: in it she writes of her childhood traumas and her late husband's sudden suicide.
More about Johanna Reiss...

Other Books in the Series

The Upstairs Room (2 books)
  • The Journey Back

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