The Puppet Boy of Warsaw
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I was twelve when the coat was made. Nathan, our tailor and dear friend, cut it for Grandfather in the first week of March 1938. It was the last week of freedom for Warsaw and for us... Even in the most difficult of lives, there is hope. And sometimes that hope comes in the form of a small boy, armed with a troupe of puppets - a prince, a girl, a fool, a crocodile with half-painted teeth....
When Mika's grandfather dies in the Warsaw ghetto, he inherits not only his great coat, but its treasure trove of secrets. In one remote pocket, he finds a papier mache head, a scrap of cloth...the prince. And what better way to cheer the cousin who has lost her father, the little boy who his ill, the neighbours living in one cramped room, than a puppet show? Soon the whole ghetto is talking about the puppet boy - until the day when Mika is stopped by a German officer and is forced into a secret life...
This is a story about survival. It is an epic journey, spanning continents and generations, from Warsaw to the gulags of Siberia, and two lives that intertwine amid the chaos of war. Because even in wartime, there is hope...he Puppet Boy of Warsaw is the story of Mika, a Jewish boy who inherits a coat from his grandfather and discovers a puppet in one of its many secret pockets. He becomes a puppeteer in the Warsaw ghetto, but when his talent is discovered, Mika is forced to entertain the occupying German troops instead of his countrymen.
them? And Ellie? What was the matter with her? Had she stopped caring? I flung the coat away from me and buried my head in my elbows. I missed Grandfather, and yes, I missed my father, a strong male presence who would absolve me from this new responsibility that hung like a lead weight on my back and chest. I needed someone else to take over, or at least tell me what to do. I lay down on the floor and stared at the ceiling, keeping my eyes open to hold back the tears. Suddenly a flash of colour
old school friends? Did they still sit behind their desks, bored, yawning, playing the same old games in the afternoon? These people were getting on with their lives, business as usual, while we barely survived. Did my friends ever think of me? My chest hurt, I found it hard to breathe. Splashes of colour sprang up everywhere: vegetables of all kinds were still on sale here, displayed on nicely decorated stalls, and there were even flowers. I wished I could grab a bunch and bring one home for
and instead of the screeching of trucks and marching boots all I could hear was the blackbird’s haunting song. It would take fifteen minutes to walk to the orphanage and I moved swiftly. The bright blue sky opened above me and for a short moment I felt happy to have escaped the darkness and stuffy air of the apartment. Hope stirred in me, as if that bird’s song had sung straight into my heart. But hope was as fleeting as that song. Right on the corner of Leszno Street, I stumbled over an
live in Wolkersdorf now?’ Max remembered the name from the first precious postcard he’d received in Siberia. ‘Yes, it’s nice there, you’ll see. I think you’ll like it,’ Erna replied. Karl said nothing but stuffed the puppet into his trouser pocket and walked behind his parents along the platform. When they reached the small station in Wolkersdorf, Erna linked arms with Max and Karl and the three made the short walk to their small house along the cobbled streets with their quaint buildings. A
prince close to her heart. They left three weeks later. To play in New York meant more to Mara than playing in any other place before – not only for the sheer excitement of the pulsing city, but for a hope that stirred in her heart of finding a link, a connection to the boy, the old man who once owned her cherished puppet. PART THREE Homecoming 30 New York City. Downtown Hospital, 14 January 2009 Pale light falls through the milky glass of the northfacing window, illuminating the black and