Thoughts on: Uncle Misha’s Partisans by Yuri Suhl

August 25, 2011

“Uncle Misha’s Partisans” by Yuri Suhl is a fictional book following the adventures of a Ukrainian boy during World War II. The book is meant for young adults (YA) and should be read as such.

  • 211 pages
  • Publisher: Shapolsky Publishers
  • ISBN: 0933503237

My rating for Uncle Misha’s Partisan’s – 5

The book, “Uncle Misha’s Partisans” by Yuri Suhl, first came to my knowledge through a post on The Children’s War blog. What caught my eye was the name of one of the partisans, Yoshke, which is similar to my great-uncles nickname (Yoseph or Yoshko) who was also a partisan during World War II.

We only know bits and pieces about my great uncle’s experiences as he never fully relayed them to anyone. He was fond of saying that he was ‘jealous of dogs’ during that time.

This award winning book (1973 The Sydney Taylor Book Awards, 1974 National Jewish Book Awards Jewish Book Council) reminded me of the books I used to love as a boy 10-13 or so, which is just about the age this book is recommended for. It is well written, excellent story which doesn’t insult the intelligence of young adults.

What I’m surprised is that I have never heard of Yuri Suhl before, I have my friend Alex at The Children’s War blog to thank for the belated introduction. Mr. Suhl,  wrote poetry in Yiddish and children’s books in English.  Born in Poland, Yuri Suhl came to the United States sometimes in the 20s, he graduated from night school and began teaching English to kids of Yiddish speaking families.

Yuri Suhl died in New York on November 17, 1986.

Twelve year old Mitek comes home after his violin lesson to find that his family has been killed by Hitler’s death squads. Mitek runs away and finds a group of armed Jewish partisans led by a man named Uncle Misha. He is met by Yoshke and Berek, two partisans who at first refuse to believe he is Jewish. However Mitek tells them that his family hid under the guise of Christians until they were outed, he goes back to camp under his birth name – Motele.

Once at the partisan camp, Yoshke takes Motele under his wing. Soon Motele is allowed to go mission against the Nazis.

Zohar – Man of la Book

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BOOK BLOGGERS – Have you read “Uncle Misha’s Partisans”? If so link up your review below:

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  • Anna August 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    This sounds really good. I was just talking to a friend the other day about how some books for younger readers insult their intelligence, and I’m so glad to hear this isn’t one of them. I’ve linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

    • zohar August 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm

      Thanks for the comment Anna. Personally I think that some of the best books written were for the YA genre and good for us because they make readers out of the next generation.

  • Alex Baugh August 27, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Thanks for your kind words, Zohar. Uncle Misha’s Partisans opened a whole new world for me, too. I found the blog for the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, which I continue to read. I will be reading more of Yuri Suhl’s books this year. I think this part of WW II history is often overlooked and shouldn’t be.

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