Quill and Quire

REVIEWS

« Back to
Book Reviews

The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser

by Kathy Kacer

This is a reader-friendly, simply told story about a Jewish girl during the Second World War. Presented in 15 chapters, the book draws on the real-life experience of author Kathy Kacer’s mother to tell about a time when hide-and-seek was anything but fun and games.

Kacer tracks the changes in daily life for a Czech family during the war. Early in 1940, 10-year-old Gabi knows little about the looming threat of Nazism. By 1941, she and her Jewish friends are required to attend a Jews-only school. By 1942, they are forbidden to attend school altogether. By 1943, when the Nazis arrive suddenly at her family farm in search of young girls, 13-year-old Gabi needs a hiding place. With her mother’s help, she hides successfully. After the soldiers’ departure, Gabi and her mother leave to hide in the mountains until the war ends.

Like Jacob’s Rescue: A Holocaust Story and The Feather-Bed Journey, this book adds to the literature about children who escaped Nazi detection by hiding. Kacer sets the stage with a brief foreword about Nazism and the Second World War. She reinforces the story with a short author’s note about her mother’s experience, period photos of her mother and grandmother, and a concise chronology of the war in Czechoslovakia. The girl on the book’s attractive cover bears a strong resemblance to the in-book photo of Kacer’s mother. The back cover shows a photo of Kacer and the dresser that saved her mother’s life.

This book is particularly recommended for younger readers not yet ready for Anne Frank’s diary or Johanna Reiss’s The Upstairs Room and The Journey Back.