Author Shulamith Levey Oppenheim
Illustrator/Photographer Ronald Himler
Publisher and Year HarperTrophy, 1992
Number of pages: 28
Genre: Historical Fiction
Descriptive Annotation: This story, illustrated with watercolor pictures, is told from the point of view of a young Jewish girl during the time of the Holocaust. After the Germans invaded Holland, Miriam is sent to live with a non-Jewish family in the country instead of staying with her parents in order to stay safe. Miriam’s new “family” shows her where to hide if the soldiers come—inside a secret room found in the cupboard. One day, Miriam hears her new father whistling “Frere Jacques” signalizing that the soldiers are nearby. Miriam grabs her new pet rabbit and runs to her cupboard. Luckily, the soldiers do not catch Miriam or her new family, and she stays safe for the next five years as the war continues on.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The Lily Cupboard features two different families, both living in Holland during the time of World War II, although it focuses on the experiences of a young Jewish girl. This book is told in first-person, but it features two pages of history about WWII and the necessary conditions that had to be taken by Jewish families in order to survive.
Interdisciplinary Connections: This book would be read when doing a unit on the Holocaust. It gives good insight to how children felt during this time of war, which would be beneficial because many times history books focus solely on facts, and not emotions. Since it features the story of a young girl during that time period, students could write a story about how they would feel if they were forced to live somewhere other than their home during a time of war. Since this living situation was also different for Nello, the son of her new “parents,” a new story could be written from his perspective.
Other Information: This book was written in a very graceful way—although there are bad things happening in the world around them, the illustrations are very colorful and the writing eases over the negative aspects of life at that point in time. This book could be read to students ranging in grades 2-5 because the language is not very difficult, and it does not go too deep into the history of the Holocaust (something usually covered in junior high or high school), but it gives enough information for students to grasp the concept.