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Black Radishes

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  627 ratings  ·  102 reviews
Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner Black Radishes is asuspenseful WWII/Holocaust story, in which one boy learns what it means to be Jewish and French at a time when everything is changing.

It is March of 1940. The French believe that their army can protect them from Nazi Germany. But is Paris a safe place for Jews? Gustave’s parents don’t think so. Forced to leave behind his
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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2010)
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2013 Rebecca Caudill Nominees
10th out of 25 books — 63 voters
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Mock Newbery 2010/2011
49th out of 82 books — 194 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,243)
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L.B. Schulman
I loved Black Radishes. The main character, Gustave, was very much a normal little boy born in extraordinary and tragic circumstances. I really liked how the author wrote Gustave as a kid who doesn't quite see the real picture of what is happening to his country. He slowly realizes the depth of evil that has gripped France. When he is separated from his cousin and best friend, he begins to realize how ugly the war has become. Through his cleverness, he comes up with solutions that seem heroic an ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
This debut novel by Susan Lynn Meyer was inspired by her own father's experience as a young Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied France. The novel opens in March, 1940, as all Paris prepares for the possibility of war with Nazi Germany. Even the Eiffel Tower has been specially prepared--covered with a layer of dirty gray camouflage paint to disguise it from Nazi bombers. And as the Nazis get ever closer to France, conquering one country after another, anti-Semitism becomes more evident, as well. Young Gu ...more
Michele
Great historical fiction about a French Jewish boy who moves out of Paris to live in the countryside during the Nazi occupation of WWII. It is really written at a level in which children can understand. The main character, Gustave, is initially upset about things like having to miss out on the Boy Scouts' award, but as the story progresses he understands the gravity of his situation and is able to do simple and yet serious work for the French Resistance. The book is written in a child's voice, w ...more
Hannah
An interesting glimpse into the life of a Jewish family in France as the Germans close in, occupying Paris. This was based on the story of the author's family, who ended up just across the line of unoccupied France. The bits of history mixed in about smuggling food and people over into unoccupied France were interesting, but I didn't feel like anything in this book was too new other than perhaps it's a good entry for elementary schoolers into the Holocaust, since it's written quite simply. Thoug ...more
Anne Broyles
Drawing from her own father's World War Two experience, Meyer tells the story of eleven-year-old Gustave Becker, a French Jew caught in the crosshairs of Hitler's hellish vision for an Aryan Europe. Readers feel Gustave's confusion, his attempts to maintain order in his life (I love how he paints a map of Europe with red to signify the Nazis' takeover of nation after nation), and ultimately, his courage in a difficult time. I'm looking forward to a sequel...
Kate
Aug 10, 2012 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: history, j, ya
Of late I have had lots of teachers looking for upbeat but realistic WWII stories to go along with their studies of Anne Frank or Number the Stars. This one fills that slot neatly and in a shorter book (always a request). Concealing his Jewish identity, helping out the resistance, and helping save his own family, Gustave's adventures fill Black Radishes with action and historical information as well.
Ms. Palubicki
I enjoyed this book mostly because it was about yet another aspect of WWII that I don't know much about. It was unique to read about living near an occupied zone and the constant fear of being free, but not really. This was a fast read.
Lorraine Stinson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Zink
Everytime I read another Holocaust book I say "no more" but I am glad I read this, as uplifting as a book on the subject can be. After all, we are all just people, right?
Spencer
This book was exciting and always had something happening. It takes place in the time of the holocaust. It can get dramatic at times, but never too boring or bland. The main character, Gustave, is very interesting to learn about because he is faced with people who do not like Jews. When he moves to the country because of the constant bomb threat, Gustave tries to make friends, but does not really fit in. He misses his friends and cousins, who are at home in Paris. Gustave finally finds a friend ...more
Bethany
I loved the integration of the French language into the dialogue. This would be a great book for a child who is learning French.
H
Gustave is the son of Parisian Jews, and on the eve of Nazi invasion of the city, his forward thinking parents flee to a small village in the countryside. Once the invasion begins in earnest, an attempt to flee the country fails, and the three return to the village only to discover that through chance they are just on the "right" side of the demarcation line between occupied and unoccupied France. Worried about friends and family left behind, and desperately trying to secure the affidavit that w ...more
Phoebe
Jul 25, 2011 Phoebe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cheryl, Deborah, Valerie
Shelves: historical-ww2, juv
Gustave and his parents leave Paris for a small village just before the Nazis invade France. They hope that their safety will be ensured in a back-of-beyond, dusty little town, but they are Jewish and everyone around them is Catholic. Gustave misses his friends and his old life, and even though Saint-Georges is in the unoccupied zone, it seems that any day the Germans will discover the Jews in their midst. With family still in Paris, Gustave's family is not yet able to flee to America--but fortu ...more
Linda Lipko
In the spring of 1940 the people of France naively believe that they will be safe from German invasion. As Hitler conquers surrounding nations, Gustave Becker's family knows that it is not safe for Jews. Entreating their relatives to escape Paris and move to the countryside of Saint-Georges, Gustave's parents leave behind their home and business in the hope of safety while family members remain in denial and stay in Paris.

By summer of 1940, the French army is defeated. While Gustave and his fami
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Beverly
Feb 15, 2013 Beverly rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 10-13 year olds
Recommended to Beverly by: Indie Next List/indiebound.org
Black Radishes is a WWII historical fiction with a twist. Gustave and his family live in Paris. At first they think France is too strong militarily and too committed to liberty politically to succumb to the German army. Gustave believes in the French motto, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," and he believes all of the French people do too, so he is shocked when he experiences violent anti-semitism, and the French army is quickly defeated by the Germans. Gustave and his family escape to the country ...more
Alex Baugh
Black Radishes is another book that is based on the experiences of someone in the author's family during World War II. This kind of reality-based historical fiction often makes for an exciting, suspenseful story and Black Radishes is no exception. According to the author's note, Susan Lynn Meyer's father, grandmother and aunt were able to escape from France after its occupation by the Nazis, so she had lots of first hand material to create this stirring novel.

Black Radishes story begins in Paris
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Nathaniel Y.
Book Title: Black Radishes

# of pages: 228

Author: Susan Lynn Meyer

Genre: Historical Fiction

This book is about a French boy named Gustave. Gustave lives in Paris and his two best friends are Marcel and Jean-Paul. He is Jewish and the time period is World War II. One day he was returning from his boy scout group and sees written in chalk on the street, "France for the French! Jews out of France!" Then he returns home and finds out that he and his family are leaving Paris within the week! They move
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Andy
Feb 22, 2012 Andy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 3-star
Despite the abundance of historical fiction for children that deals with the subject of World War II, Meyer manages to offer a unique perspective of Jews living in France during the early 1940s when Germany invades. A country that prides itself on the values of liberty, equality, and justice soon cedes to the Germans and finds itself divided into occupied and unoccupied zones. During this tumultuous time just prior to occupation, eleven-year-old Gustave and his parents decide to leave their Pari ...more
LJ
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ruben


WW2, worst times in the 40's, especially for the Jewish. This book is historical fiction. This book was just wonderful!
Have you ever wondered how life was for the Jewish during the Holocaust? For Gustave his life changed! He was forced to move in the countryside with his family while his cousins stay in Paris. He's lonely and doesn't have anyfriends until he meets Nicole. She is part of the French Rebellion, who help Jewish out of the occupied zones and into the demarcation line so they can l
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Krista
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Addison Children
A great first novel, this historical fiction, based partly on the life of the author's father, looks at the plight of Jews in France as WWII unfolds. Gustave and his parents leave Paris, business, friends, and family behind to move to a rural French locale as the Nazis gain strength and position in France. Even in their small town Gustave faces prejudice and fear, but also receives needed help and makes friends. A good choice for that historical fiction report.
Marcus
Jun 23, 2014 Marcus rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Marcus by: 9th Grade Honors English Class (for summer reading)
I thought this was a wonderful novel. Gustave, the main character, is extremely likable. The book was always exciting and the characters were very well developed. When I finished the actual story and reached the Author's Note, I was astounded when I found out that this was Meyer's debut novel. I also enjoyed that she used her father's experiences as the base of the novel. Great job, Susan Lynn Meyer.
Laura Aase
Jan 21, 2014 Laura Aase rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any historical fiction lover
This fast paced story follows Gustave, a French Jewish boy. He must leave his 2 best friends and extended family when things heat up in France. They flee from Paris to a small town in the south and soon after, the Nazi's take over northern France. The story focuses on the demarcation line and the French Resistance. This would be an awesome Holocaust introduction book - especially if the resistance were discussed. The map at the beginning and the authors notes at the end highlight the true aspect ...more
Miss Amanda
gr 5-8 222pgs


1940-1941 Paris, France/St Georges, France. Gustave is shocked when his parents decide to leave Paris to go to the small village of St Georges. Gustave is sure that the French army can protect France from the Nazis. When the Nazis invade France, the country is divided into the occupied zone under Nazi control and the unoccuppied zone under the Vichy government. Gutave and his family are unable to find out his friends and family left behind in Paris. When they hear reports of how Fre
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Jill
Jun 07, 2012 Jill rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jill by: 2013 Caudill list
Shelves: wwii
This was another WWII book set in Europe. This one, however, took place in France.

Black Radishes is the story of Gustave and his family, who are Jewish. At the beginning of the book, the Nazis are infiltrating other European countries, but France seemed to be safe for the time being. However, it quickly became obvious that France's army and leadership were not immune to Nazis. Gustave and his family escape from Paris to the south of France. He meets up with some Nazi sympathizers, but also with
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Aditi P.
4.5 stars: This book was really amazing. It was completely unique from other WWII books I've read. This book was not told from the perspective of a Jewish person in a concentration camp, or the perspective of a German person hiding Jewish people, but from the perspective of a French-Jewish boy who never lived in the central areas of the horror, yet his life was drastically altered by all of these events. I loved this as it made it really thought provoking and it showed you how this time of terro ...more
Desiree
Black radishes deals with not only the plight of Jewish people during the holocaust, but also issues of national identity. In the beginning of the story, Gustave is a typical french boy who just happens to be Jewish. His life revolves around his friends and the obtainment of merit badges for boy scouts. By the end of the book, Gustave begins to question his place in the land of his birth and what it means to be Jewish. Very good historical fiction.
Caren
Very well-written account of a young Jewish boy's life in and eventual escape from occupied France during WWII. The author says the story is based on her own father's WWII experiences. The book would be a great addition to an upper elementary social studies unit on World War II, as it capably communicates the tension of the times without dwelling too deeply on some of the horrors. The young protagonist, Gustave, is very likable and the story is quite gripping. Memorable quote: Gustave asks his f ...more
Stephanie
This book was not what I expected, which isn't a bad thing. It was nice to read a WWII book from a perspective not as prevalent in YA literature: that of a young French Jewish boy. The book captured the horrors of the war and how families were torn apart, scared, and how many different people put their lives at risk to save others. There was a good amount of action that got the book off the ground, but the character development seemed weak to me, and too many elements were left unexplained or dr ...more
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