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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  14,345 ratings  ·  1,430 reviews
He’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham.

He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day tha...more
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Published September 9th 2003 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2003)
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Mar 27, 2009 Patricia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents to read with their YA or teachers
Recommended to Patricia by: my sister, Alicia
I initially read this book to determine whether it was appropriate for my 11 year-old daughter to read. Although it is considered a YA novel, any book (fiction or non-fiction) with a theme centered around the holocaust, is a novel I want to preview before allowing my child to absorb.

I was immediately drawn to the short sentence structure and quick action. From the beginning, the reader is drawn into an eight year-old orphan boy's innocent view of a world where he must steal, and become virtually...more
This is the first Jerry Spinelli book that I have read. I bought Stargirl at the same time and after reading Milkweed I am excited to start reading Stargirl. Spinelli does well to portray the voice of a young orphan boy in Warsaw. There are a lot of reviews about this and the book "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" that say that it is unbelievable that there were children that did not know what was going on around them. I really disagree with these statements. I have taught 5th graders and 6th gra...more
Karly *The Vampire Ninja*
I would venture that this is a read alike for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

Set in Poland during World War II Milkweed is told through the unique perspective of one of those lost-through-the-cracks kids.... Our MC - "Misha" for all intents and purposes - is a thief, a runner, an orphan, a gypsy with no memory of his life before the story begins.

He steals food to survive and has zero awareness of what is going on in his little world outside of the speeding images that he runs past daily. Misha...more
I hope that nobody will look at me funny when I say that I love reading WWII/Holocaust stories. I do. I'm drawn to the stories of the people - I want to know what it is in us that makes us so cruel to others. I'm fascinated by people's stories- real or fiction. I don't think that they should be ignored or forgotten, and acknowledging them makes me more thankful for the good things that I have in my life.

Milkweed is a story of an orphan in 1930s Poland who knows nothing but survival. Not who he...more
Jul 16, 2008 Leslie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, romantics
Shelves: favorite
Author - Jerry Spinelli

This is a young adult book - maybe even for middle schoolers.

It takes place during WWII in Warsaw, Poland. A young boy is stealing food and is caught by another boy who lives with a group of children who steal food and live on the streets. This boy knows nothing about himself - not his name, not where he lives, not even his age. The author uses very simple language and sentence structure in the beginning of the book so that we are drawn into this child's state of being.

Thea Guanzon
Hmm, I don't know. I loved MOST of the book. I grew up trying to learn all I could about war history, so the experiences described in Milkweed were nothing I hadn't read about or seen on film before, but the story of life in Nazi-occupied Europe through the eyes of a child, who at first can't even understand what's going on, packs quite an emotional wallop. Spinelli's prose in this one contains little of the eloquent fluidity I remember so well from Stargirl; the style is choppier, more minimali...more
Only One Spoiler Alert sort of
This is an amazing book. This book shows that even in darkness their is color meaning even though it's a really hard situation keep on hoping.

This was an enjoyable book because it showed you can still help others even if you need the same help. For example Misha needed food but he still gave food to the orphans and his "family." This book can show you that not everyone is cruel.
He's running. That is the first thing he remembers. He doesn't remember why he is running or where he is running to, all he knows is running. He has no name, no home and no family. He is a gypsy, a thief, but still a boy. A boy who doesn't know who or what he is until his friend, Uri, tells him. He is told his name is Misha Pilsudski. He is a gypsy. He is not to look guilty.

This story is about a young boy that finds himself in a small town that is under the Nazi power. He has no family or home,...more
I originally picked this book up because of the title; we're big monarch butterfly fans in my house. Well, it's about the holocaust and not butterflies, but it still interested me. I agree with another person (Patricia) who rated this book on a lot of things. I read the book in about two days and did like the story and was quite captivated by it.

I had trouble with two things. The first was where Stopthief came from. It seemed that he just materialized when he was 8. He couldn't remember his name...more
I loved, loved this book. It was so well written and I completely fell in love with the characters. I wanted to leap through the pages and save them all. I have read some of this author’s other works with my boys when they were young. He writes youth fiction and is always age appropriate. But I haven’t loved his other books like I love this one. I wish I had come across this particular book when I used to read to my boys. It would have brought about a great discussion that would surely have give...more
I love both Maniac Magee and Stargirl, but this book left me cold. I found it unbelievable. I didn't really care about the characters. Spinelli is usually good to pull me into the story, but this story just made me feel yucky. I didn't get the whole "Candy man" in the Ghetto. Where did he come from. In every story I've ever read about the Holocaust the children (and adults) are always afraid of the soldiers. I found the idea of the Misha and Janina taunting the Mint man annoying. It wouldn't hav...more
Cait Grace
There's something special, something real, about Jerry Spinelli's books. His style of writing is one of my absolute favourites. You don't just read his books. You get inside the pages and stand on the street corner while the pickpockets run, the bombs fall, and the Jackboots march in their perfect rows. It's not just a story. It's your story -- because you're in it.

The characters, the plot, the setting, the details, the dialogue -- all pitch perfect. I had to read the whole book in one sitting....more
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Title: Milkweed
Genre: historical fiction
Publication Info: Random House, New York, 2003
Recommended Age: 11 and older
Plot Summary: A pocket-picking orphan who thinks his name is “stopthief” tells of his experiences during the Holocaust. The story begins when he is about eight years old. A redheaded older boy named Uri finds Stopthief and takes him under his wing, introducing him to a whole group of young thieves. Uri gives Stopthief a new name and makes up his background, tel...more
Outstanding book. We've chosen this to read for the November 2008 Children's Book Club. My students wanted to read about the Holocaust and I think this will provide an interesting discussion. I may try to read them Innocenti's Rose Blanche for a comparative (sp?) point of view.

We discussed this November 12. One didn't like, one liked but thought it was sad, the other was finishing it but liked it. Don't know where the other members were. Lots of people checked the book out so someone must be re...more
Kate Madigan
I loved this novel! I've read many YA novels based on the Holocaust since we teach a unit on it every year. This novel was told from, what I consider to be, a unique perspective - a child previously unattached to any "normal" family structure. It is a story largely untold in many of the other novels out there, so the storyline felt fresh. So often we hear of families torn apart and how people learned to survive after losing everyone they love in the Holocaust. But what happens when you have no o...more
Douglas Neumeyer
Milkweed did what every good book should do. It captured my interest from the very start and kept it right to the very last paragraph of the final chapter; I didn’t skim or skip a thing. It contained appealing characters that were reasonably well believable, its story was appealing and well-paced. And it does a good job at realting things in the book to things that really happened in that time of history.
After loving "Maniac Magee" for the greater part of my life, I was enthralled to stumble upon another Spinelli work at the library. However, I was gravely disappointed by "Milkweed". The novel really isn't believable. There aren't plot holes or anything, it's actually very well pieced together...but it's about a Jew (who really doesn't know if he's a Jew) who wants to be a Nazi in 1940's Germany. He's basically a homeless boy taken in by some Jewish homeless boys. They run around and steal food....more
Ben Baraiac
1)4 stars
2) The story begins with a boy with out a name. He believes his name is Stoptheif because that is all people call him. He steals food for him self. Then he meets up with some other theifs that call him a jew and gypsy. He lives with them awhile until the nazi or "jackboots" take them to the ghetto. He is given the name Misha. Misha becomes friends with a girl named Jania. Misha sneaks food in and out of the ghetto. Then The people of the ghetto are transported with trains but Misha stay...more
The book "Milkweed" is a well written book. It is about a Jewish orphan boy in the Holocaust days who doesn't have a name, steeling food to survive in Warsaw, Poland. He is short, sneaky, stubborn, and fast. One day, he bumps into Uri, who is the leader of a gang. Uri gives him a name, Misha, and then he turns into one of the gang-men, and lives with them. He later finds a pretty girl, Janina Milgrom, staring at him, while he was stealing tomatoes. They become friends and help each other out. T...more
This I would probably give a 3 1/2 if I could. I liked the book, and keep thinking about the characters, their situations, and being a little haunted by it all, but I didn't fall in love with it. The main character is very interesting since he doesn't really know anything about himself except for a very few vague memories, doesn't even have a name, since it seems like he was left to fend for himself at a young age. He's taken under the wing of an older orphan boy in Warsaw, and although he's alr...more
Chris Fish
This was a very good book. i really love the author Jerry Spinelli, he is a really good author. but i only rated it four star because it was a bit random and childish. well as for childish, i guess i can understand that, because the character was the one who gave it that feeling through his actions. so it was just random (random isn't the quite word is it... it's more disorganized). the story line was amazing, and i loved the characters!!

this story is about a orphan boy (called many names, but...more
Tiffini Johnson
This is the first person narrative of a very naive, innocent young orphan who is taken in by a group of Jews. Eventually, he finds himself living in a Warsaw ghetto. He makes friends with a little girl named Janina. He is proud of his small size and quickness because it allows him to get out of the ghetto every night to steal food for himself and those he cares about. The author has clearly done a good deal of research; the environment right down to babkas, sausages and even the Jewish greeting,...more
Tragedy, historical content, and Sarcastic is the tone given by the author. This book was about events that happened during the time period of the Holocaust. I had to read this book over the summer before entering the eighth grade because we were going to learn about it in school and we needed basic knowledge of what it was. So here I am thinking I probably find a book review on it and there I finish and prepared. But as I read the first chapter that turned into the middle of the book to the end...more
Brittany Kerwin
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli takes place in Poland in 1939. The story is about a boy who we understand has no home, no family, and no idea what his name even is. There are other boys just like him and they all live on the streets together. They get by, but they have to do their best to stay away from the Nazi Germans otherwise known as the “Jackboots”. The boy is basically like a blank canvas. He looks at the Jackboots as if he wants to be like them. They are well dressed, have shiny boots, and se...more
Enrique Chavez
This book is about a boy who has lived on the streets of Warsaw as long as he remember. He forgot what his name was the only thing he remembers is what people call him today like stopthief, and Jew. He has no home and no parents he was left orphan because of the Nazis. Later on the story he meets his friend Uri that gives him a new name Misha. Uri watches after him Misha is small and he's a good thief so he never hungry because he always steal.

More on to the story Misha became friends with a...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
So very disappointing. I have high expectations of Holocaust literature - or any literature based on real historical events. I don't want to read writing that exploits the significance of such events, manipulates the reader's emotions, offers nothing new, and by doing so, trivialises not just the event, but the value of literature.

I found this book rather 'Life is Beautiful'-like - moving for the person who is encountering the facts of the Holocaust for the first time and can still be shocked by...more
Alex Templeton
I'm teaching Spinelli's amazing novel "Stargirl" to my literature class, so when one of my other students told me I had to read this book, which he is reading in HIS literature class, I said I would. I look forward to discussing it with him, as I honestly didn't think the world of it. It's about a young orphan named Misha who finds himself in the midst of the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. I think the major problem for me is that, after studying the Holocaust in college and reading some dark...more
This might be my favorite Spinelli book. I'm impressed with how he was able to write it from a young boy's point of view, make it feel and sound authentic, and yet still sound poignant and sophisticated. This is a great historical fiction read for younger tweens because it's not super violent or graphic, but gets at the heart of how astonishingly painful that period in history was. "This was the ghetto, where children grew down instead of up." I feel like the ending was rushed a bit, but I appre...more
Lisa James
Although written as a child's book, the content is unusual for the author. Told from a boy's perspective, it covers the WW2 period, from the standpoint of an oft overlooked demographic from that time, the orphans of Warsaw. Misha was orphaned so young that he doesn't even know his real name, how old he is, or anything when we first meet him. he doesn't know if he's a Jew or a Gypsy, but he thinks because he has a yellow stone around his neck that his father gave him, that he's a Gypsy. His memor...more
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Anyone else think the ending was sad? 8 44 Sep 29, 2014 02:24PM  
Why does Uri shoot Misha? 8 38 Aug 24, 2014 06:01PM  
good book 2 14 Dec 03, 2013 07:21AM  
What's The Name o...: Historical Fiction Book on Mentally Challenged Kid during WW2 [s] 3 36 Aug 01, 2013 07:50PM  
CMS309: Summer Reading 1 6 Jul 19, 2013 08:31PM  
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When Jerry Spinelli was a kid, he wanted to grow up to be either a cowboy or a baseball player. Lucky for us he became a writer instead.

He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and went to college at Gettysburg College and Johns Hopkins University. He has published more than 25 books and has six children and 16 grandchildren.
Jerry Spinelli began writing when he was 16 — not much older than the hero of his...more
More about Jerry Spinelli...
Stargirl (Stargirl, #1) Maniac Magee Love, Stargirl (Stargirl, #2) Loser Wringer

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“When you own nothing, it's easy to let things go.” 90 likes
“Who are you?'
I didn't understand the question.
I'm Uri', he said. 'What's your name?'
I gave him my name. 'Stopthief.”
More quotes…