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Milkweed

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  19,719 Ratings  ·  1,876 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 t
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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 9th 2003 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Patricia
Mar 25, 2009 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  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
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Wendy
Feb 22, 2008 Wendy rated it really liked it
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
Becky
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
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Catherine
Oct 13, 2010 Catherine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rebecca
I was expecting so much more from this book. I love Stargirl and fiction set during WWII and the Holocaust, but Milkweed just didn't work for me. I'm struggling to properly express my feelings for it, but quite a few reviews I've read do a pretty good job.

It was written in Spinelli's usual simplistic style, which made it a quick and easy read. I didn't quite like the way it was written as much as I did in Stargirl. The perspective was an interesting one and similar to John Boyne's Children's/Mi
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Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
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
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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
Chloe Wang
Dec 13, 2015 Chloe Wang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Milkweed By: Jerry Spinelli

Milkweed is an amazing book written by Jerry Spinelli that takes you on an amazing journey of a young boy’s life during World War II, the holocaust. I would really recommend this book to anyone. To read this book, you don’t have to be a fan of historical fiction or WWII. This book just makes you want to dive into the book and help each one of the characters. I fell in love with all of the characters. This specific book was what made me love reading historical fictions
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Donna
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
Esme
Mar 13, 2014 Esme rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tabi
Mar 15, 2016 Tabi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this for school, and I was fascinated and couldn't put it down! I would highly recommend it
Leslie
Jul 16, 2008 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  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.

His
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Cait (Paper Fury)
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.
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Tawny
Mar 20, 2008 Tawny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Janelle
May 03, 2015 Janelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, family-book-group
I read this book because my son (Boy 2) asked me to. We decided to start a family book group. All 4 of us read the book and we invited a family friend who would be visiting from out of town to read it, too. We had a great discussion with 3 adults and 2 kids.

I've read a few Spinelli books and this one is set in a dramatically different setting than most of them. I enjoyed seeing how he addressed some of his usual themes - identity, self-worth, integrity, friendship - in 1940s Warsaw. I wondered h
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Lyndee
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,
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Kari
Mar 29, 2009 Kari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Linda
A worthy addition to the list of Holocaust stories suitable for YA readers. Poignant and well written, about an 8-year-old orphan who survived the Warsaw ghetto during WWII.
Hannah
Oct 31, 2010 Hannah rated it liked it
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
Barbara
Sep 27, 2008 Barbara rated it it was amazing
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
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mstan
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
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Mr. Z
Mar 15, 2009 Mr. Z rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jerry Spinelli is cranking out books left and write, partly because his prose are so simple. In this simple, yet well-told story, we follow a young, homeless boy from the beginnings of the Holocaust to the more deadly pinnacles of it. We see how stereotypes were in place and those responsible did nothing to stop it, rather to perpetuate it. We understand how so many unfortunate people caught in the evil workings of the Holocaust were left to fend for themselves, only they didn't have the resourc ...more
Tori
Aug 06, 2014 Tori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always read books about the holocaust, waiting for some piece of a happy ending that never comes. And why should it? It was a horrible time in our history. But I credit the author in the telling of this story: through the eyes of this young and simple-minded boy, a beautifully painful narrative unfolds. Part of the beauty of the telling is in the fact that Misha doesn't appear to understand just how bad things are and yet he always has compassion for others. So through this story the reader is ...more
Kate Madigan
Aug 24, 2013 Kate Madigan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Jack
Jan 02, 2008 Jack rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Araceli
Mar 16, 2014 Araceli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Milkweed is about the life of a boy in the Holocaust. He is faced with problems like identity but in the end he finds his true identity. What he's been waiting for.

It's a great book and I loved reading it. All the characters were great and the whole book was very interesting. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
Tara
Feb 07, 2017 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that this book is full of adventure and excitement. once you start reading, it's nearly impossible to put the book down. I really like this book because its set back during the second world war in such a realistic way when it's such a complexed time but still written simple enough to understand it. The challenge I found was keeping track of the characters and Misha (the main characters) emotions. Since he's such a young and clueless character, it can be sometimes hard to understand what ...more
Lisa Lawrence
Feb 16, 2017 Lisa Lawrence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A person thinks she has read all there is about the Holocaust, the horrors, the cruelty... and then here we have Milkweed. Ugly cry as the child w/ many names finds himself at last.
Mirabelle
Brilliant. Totally devastating.
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Anyone else think the ending was sad? 11 63 Jul 06, 2015 10:31AM  
Why does Uri shoot Misha? 9 107 Feb 23, 2015 05:48AM  
Class of 2015: Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli 1 3 Dec 11, 2014 09:03PM  
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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
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More about Jerry Spinelli...

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“When you own nothing, it's easy to let things go.” 98 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.”
27 likes
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