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Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  780 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
Upon the Head of the Goat is the winner of the 1982 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and a 1982 Newbery Honor Book.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 24th 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published June 1st 1968)
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Newbery Medal Honor Books
294th out of 313 books — 319 voters
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Children's Books about Real Women
38th out of 57 books — 23 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,855)
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Terri Lynn
I hate to label this as young adult nonfiction because so many people have a prejudice against any book labeled for children or young adults and so miss out on some wonderful and fine literature.

This autobiography begins in 1939 when a little Jewish Hungarian girl Aranka Davidovitch, known to all as Piri, is 9 years old and visiting her grandmother Babi on her small farm across the border near the town of Komjaty in the Ukraine. Trouble erupts between Hungary and the Ukraine and the border is se
Jul 18, 2014 blmagm rated it really liked it
I had the privilege of hearing the author and concentration camp survivor Aranka Siegal present at Shenandoah University's Children's Literature Conference. The audience listened with rapt attention as she spoke of her growing up years in the ghetto and then as a worker at both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen before being liberated. This novel in which she herself is the main character Piri is based on Siegal's actual experiences. What could be an overwhelmingly bleak book because of the subject mat ...more
Linda Lipko
A 1982 Newbery honor book regarding the holocaust, this is written about events leading up to the deportation of the author's family to Auschwitz in 1944.

Happy and carefree, Piri spends summers with her grandmother in Beregszasz. During 1939 sudden changes occur as it appears the nation is in the debt of Adolf Hitler. Unable to return to Hungary because the borders are closed, we watch as increasingly the slovac nations are swallowed up by Germany.

When Peri is able to return to her family, she l
Aug 15, 2011 Grace rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one. Ever.
Dreadful. Absolutely dreadful.
Jan 15, 2014 Readgood rated it really liked it

Upon The Head Of The Goat by Aranka Siegal describes about a girl named Piri whose town is raided by the Germans in Hungary and is taken to a ghetto while they while her father is fighting in the German war. She and her family overcome many difficulties while struggling to survive. My favorite part of the book is when Piri’s family is taken to the ghetto and her mom sets up their little room like it’s their actual house. It feel kind of funny and a smart thing to do at the same time, but I enjoy
Sep 09, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-honor
I was so moved by this account of the Holocaust that I found it difficult to sleep the night I finished it. Why had I not heard of this book until now when I’m reading it as part of my Newbery Honor and Award books project? The Diary of Anne Frank gets attention on high school reading lists, and rightly so. But this book should be taught as well.

“Looking at them, drawn together by the same ancient tradition, I began to understand the meaning of the expression I had often heard grownups use, “Yo
Mar 08, 2014 Alisa rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Emmet
Nov 05, 2011 Susan Emmet rated it really liked it
Another fine Holocaust remembering by Aranka Siegal, who, with two sister,were sole family survivors of Hungarian ghettoization and eventual deportation to Auschwitz.
A cdlleague recommended this 1981 Newberry Award winner.
Siegal is "Piri" (her Yiddish name) and her sister is "Iboya." The book is a memoir reminiscent in some ways of "The Diary of Anne Frank" in terms of its narrative viewpoint. Piri is thirteen when the hard persecution came to Hungary. There is much she doesn't understand and m
May 29, 2013 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newberry-honor
In Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944, Aranka Siegal tells about her life as a Hungarian Jew through most of WWII. This Newberry Honor book is a fascinating story. I do not believe that I have read anything about Hungarian Jews in the war. I have had the opportunity to walk through the ghetto section of Budapest where the Jews were kept. It is always so disturbing to read about how our love of war has affected the children of the world. I was deeply touched by this book. ...more
Ms. Mielke's Class
Feb 12, 2015 Ms. Mielke's Class rated it it was amazing
What I thought of this book was that I really liked it but I did not like the ending of the book. This book I really like because I love learning about what it was like back when they had the Holocaust and what happened to everybody. My least favorite part of this book was the ending, it just left me hanging and I really wanted to know what was going to happen next. I recommend this book to anyone who loves reading about the Holocaust or who wants to know more about it. SS
Jun 01, 2014 Lynn rated it really liked it
An autobiographical Holocaust book about the childhood of the author, Aranka Siegal (Piri), and her family in Hungary as their lives were ravaged by World War II and the anti-Semitism of Germany, HItler & his military. Although it's a another reminder of the atrocities by Hitler & his army of crazies, this also shows the faith & pride of Piri's family right up to the moment they were ready to leave the ghetto camp. A hard read, but a good read.
A heartbreaking autobiographical Holocaust narrative about the childhood of the author, Aranka Siegal, and her family in Hungary as they slowly became consumed by World War II and the anti-Semitism of nearby Germany and its military.

As someone who is a quarter Hungarian, I was fascinated and found heroine Piri's story compelling yet at times hard to follow. A list of characters and a map would have been helpful - I am so ignorant of geography I did not understand that Piri's grandmother Babi's
Joseph Wengerd
Jul 20, 2015 Joseph Wengerd rated it really liked it
This was a well-written book that handles the joys and horrors of a Hungarian childhood during WWII in a way that is accessible to young adults while still being enjoyable to adults. As someone who enjoys cooking, I especially appreciated the attention Siegal paid to food throughout the story.
Nov 22, 2009 Elaine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youth, history, holocaust
How many of us were led to believe that Hitler's troops were pretty much limited to Germany and Poland only later to discover that it was significantly more far-reaching than that? Austria. The Ukraine. Hungary.

This is Piri's story of her family in The Ukraine and Hungary. About the oppression and dearth they endured at the hand of their enemy through no fault of their own. Simply because they were Jewish.

Latrines in the ghetto were out in full view of the guards and others. Since they couldn't
1982 Newbery Honor Book

This is a narrative told by one of the survivors of the Jewish Holocaust in Nazi Germany.

Piri tells the story of living with her grandmother on the Hungarian countryside and then moving to the city as the war grows closer. Rations gets tighter and tighter until the family is herded into a ghetto to await the train to Auschwitz.

I read several nonfiction books this year about the persecution of the Jews and that helped me to understand what was coming for the Jews in this bo
I don't think this is the edition I read, but I don't remember what was on the cover of that edition, so I probably couldn't identify it by sight.

I read it because I was intrigued by the title. And I really remember very little of it as an individual book (as opposed to one book in a genre).

I do remember one thing though. The mother, when she makes bread, doesn't buy packaged yeast. Every loaf she makes, she saves a bit of dough, to keep a seedstock of yeast for future loaves. So it's a very bad
Jan 24, 2016 Fishface rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, ww2
A good, moving autobiography of life starting at the point when the author was liberated from a concentration camp. Well written and moving.
Apr 30, 2015 Catlynn rated it it was amazing
I really liked the book. It is a good way to know what happened during World War 2. When you read it you can know how the Jewish felt . Over all it is a good book and a good way to learn about the history of of what Germans did and how everybody responded to what they did .
Jun 25, 2014 Iris rated it it was amazing
An account of a young family in Hungary at the time of the German occupation and the tragedy that befell them. A must read for all of us.
Feb 24, 2015 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: deeply-moving
This is such a great book, also its great for kids to read. Deeply moving and sad but definitely worth reading.
Dean Brodhag
Nov 29, 2015 Dean Brodhag rated it liked it
A Newberry Honor Book from 1981 documents life for Jews in Hungary from a 12 year old viewpoint
Mar 31, 2015 Vivian rated it really liked it
got to hear the author of this book -- amazing woman, amazing story. own my own copy.
Dec 08, 2011 Stacy rated it liked it
Hmmm. I liked it. I didn't love it. And I didn't 'really' like it. I had an interest in it since my ancesters come from Hungary. There were some things I wish Ms. Siegal would have done differently. Some characters weren't fully developed, in my opinion. I wish she would have explained the picture on the front. The sister on the very left looks almost like a cartoon. Did anyone else notice that? And she kept referring to one of her sisters, but she wasn't pictured on the cover. Did she have a di ...more
Ms. Gates
Oct 27, 2008 Ms. Gates rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was in eighth grade and was so inspired by the story, I wrote to the author and asked her to come to my middle school to talk about her experience. She came along with three other Holocaust survicors. Her story really appeals to the reader because you can relate to her experiences as a young adult. It shows that even though she was dealing with so many injustices against her, she was still a human with emotions like everyone else. This is probably one of my favorite piece ...more
The author and her sister were survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, but this book is about their families experiences up to the point of going off in the cattle cars, and wondering what was the meaning of Auschwitz? It was such an unexpected ending. I have been reading the reviews, and I see that there are two other books. One about her time with her grandmother before the war, and I expect the other is about the time in the concentration camps. Aranka gives a good picture of her close fami ...more
Nina Chambers
Jul 15, 2011 Nina Chambers rated it it was amazing
Amazing memoir set in the Hungarian Ukraine leading up to Nazi occupation & deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau. A good listen on Recorded Books version read by Christina Moore. There are 2 more in this trilogy: Grace in the Wilderness: 1945-48, & Memories of Babi which is a prequel--her memories of staying at her grandmother's farm in the Ukraine town of Komjaty up to 1939.
Ginny Messina

A Newbery Honor book, this describes the author's experience as a young girl living in the Ukraine and also a small town in Hungary and then in a Jewish ghetto at the beginning of World War II. Aranka Siegal captures the fear and uncertainty of her family’s life and also her mother’s determination to protect the family’s dignity under intolerable circumstances.
Thomas Bell
Aug 24, 2015 Thomas Bell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-honors
This is an extremely good book about life in Hungary for a child/young teenager during WWII. Though names have been changed, it is actually the true story of the author when she lived there. The book ends with the family about to be carted over to Auschwitz, but there is a short Epilogue which explains what happened after that. It is a worthy read.
Feb 05, 2016 Mckinley rated it really liked it
WWII jews and ghetto in WWII.
See more memoirs: The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Hautzig; I Am Fifteen--and I Don't Want To Die by Arnothy; The Hiding Place by ten Boom; Upstairs Room & Journey Back both by Reiss; Thanks to My Mother by Rabinovici; Diary of a Young Girl by Frank; Adam and Thomas by Appelfeld
Grandma Weaver
Aug 10, 2011 Grandma Weaver rated it really liked it
i believe this book was written for young people but i enjoyed it. my son lent me this book and her 2 other books (i think he knows the authors grandson) its hard to accept that such horrible things could have happened and really not that long ago. i think its good for all of us to remember and never let it happen again.
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Aranka Siegal, one of seven children, was, raised in Beregszasz, Hungary. During World War II, when Aranka was thirteen, she and her family were moved from their home to the Beregszasz brick factory, which had been turned into a ghetto to house Jews. Shortly thereafter, they were deported to Auschwitz. Upon their arrival on May 9, 1944, she and her older sister were separated from the rest of the ...more
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