life” is also more cruelly surreal for being played out in places now synonymous with hedonistic holidays — the cerulean-blue Med, the Niçoise flower market and a Gobelin-tapestried mountain château.
Frenkel’sstay,holedup ina“Noah’sArk”of ahotel along with other, assorted Jewish refugees, was a daily battle for food and the wherewithal to cook it. Damned, from March 1942, if she registered her race, and damned if she did not, Frenkel struggled daily with identity papers, indifferent or openly hostile bureaucracy and the improbable hope of an entry visa to Switzerland.
Returning from shopping one day, she stumbled upon Jews being rounded up for a transport to Drancy. A fleeting desire for solidarity — to join her people — was overcome by a fierce instinct for self-preservation. “The bitterness of this truth”, she writes, “weighs on me still and will to the end of my days.”
She slipped into a hairdressing salon run by a friendly Corsican woman who took her into hiding at great personal risk. The kindness of strangers who shield and support her makes Frenkel’s suffering just about bearable.
A lady aristocrat in Avignon serves her cider from an ancient papal goblet, said to protect one from the enemy. Following a failed attempt to enter Switzerland, and a spell in jail, she recovers in a convent, cared for by Sister Ange, “whose face had become the very manifestation of welcome.” And, at last, there’s the soldier who shoots into the air and not at Frenkel, so facilitating her illegal crossing into Switzerland. Francoise Frenkel
Madeleine Kingsley is a freelance writer
BELLA FISHER’S mum opens a canine ice-cream shop, Give a Dog a Cone — and Bella has to help there, wearing a dog costume. “Fit Adam” regards Bella as just a friend, while evil ex, Luke, is dating a model. And that model is Bella’s opponent in a competition to win a visit from her favourite band. by (Scholastic, £6.99) is an at-times-overexcited comedy of teenage cringedom — with such Austenian reflections as: “He was like a Yorkshire pudding: his ingredients were excellent but combined they achieved a previously unimaginable extra level of perfection”. Age 12 to 16.
Watercolour beach and subaquatic scenes illustrate Elly’s Adventure Saving the Coral by Linda Nissen Samuels (Pato Press, £7.99). Elly and his friend dive into the sea to admire the coral — but the usually colourful formations are white, due to global warming (it kills the algae on which coral must feed to stay bright and healthy). The eco message is clearly explained and Samuels provides practical tips for readers who want to do their bit for the planet. Age three to nine. Why does the New Year for Trees occur in a season when it is too cold to plant them (January 31 this year)? Find out, in by Jamie Korngold (Kar-Ben, £5.99). Julie Fortenberry illustrates an increasingly hot-and-bothered Sadie as she begs her family to support her tree-planting mission.
Grandma comes to the rescue with a practical alternative for impatient gardeners — grow parsley and it will be ready to use at Passover. A cosy family story for age three to seven. For the underthrees, there is Tu B’Shevat is Coming,
Tracy Newman Viviana Garofoli (Kar-Ben, £4.50).
Summoned by a deity, a man builds a boat to save his family and animals (two by two) from a flood. But it is not what you think. Author Irving Finkel is curator of cuneiform tablets at the British Museum. In The Lifeboat That
(Thames & Hudson, £9.95), he retells the Mesopotamian tale of Atra-hasis, given a Noah-like mission by the god Enki.
Finkel’s version centres on nineyear-old Very Quick, son of Atra-hasis (with scary illustrations by Dylan Giles). Age nine to 12 (unsuitable for Orthodox readers, as Finkel emphasises Atra-hasis pre-dates the Bible).
Reviewed by Madeleine Kingsley
Sadie’s Snowy Tu B’Shevat
Truly Madly Awkward Beth Garrod