Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944

Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944

by Aranka Siegal

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The classic true story of one child's experiences during the holocaust.

Nine-year-old Piri describes the bewilderment of being a Jewish child during the 1939-1944 German occupation of her hometown (then in Hungary and now in the Ukraine) and relates the ordeal of trying to survive in the ghetto.

Upon the Head of the Goat is the winner of the 1982 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and a 1982 Newbery Honor Book.

“This is a book that should be read by all those interested in the Holocaust and what it did to young and old.” —Isaac Bashevis Singer

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374480790
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 03/24/2003
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 209,528
Product dimensions: 5.17(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.64(d)
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Aranka Siegal's Holocaust novels are based on her own experiences as a child. She lives in Miami, Florida.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions for Upon the Head of the Goat

1. When we study the Holocaust, much of the focus is on the atrocities in the concentration camps and the numbers of people murdered. Less is said about the lives of the people before the invasion of the Germans. In Goat, Aranka Siegal tells us about her life before the war. Discuss the ways her life was the same as yours.

2. Tradition for the Davidowitz family and for most Jews is an essential part of their identity.

Piri: I had once asked Mother about the neat little ball of dough she always saved from her Friday baking and tucked inside a flowered tin box for the following Friday. She had answered, "I brought this tin box with me from Komjaty when I first moved to Beregszász. My mother gave me a ball of her growing yeast to take with me. She got her original ball of dough from her mother. This way the bread we bake stays the same for generations."

"Are you going to give me a ball of the dough when I get married?" I asked.

"Of course," she had answered. [pp. 141–42]

What does the ball of dough represent? If you were going to start a tradition for your family, what would you pass down?

3. In 1939, the Davidowitz family is living side by side with its Hungarian neighbors in Beregszász. When they visit Babi, Piri's grandmother, in Komjaty for the Passover seder, Babi advises Piri's mother: "Rise, you are fooling yourself. You are living among goyim and you think they are your friends. I just hope you never have to depend on them. They are neighborly, but there is a big difference between neighbors and your own. Only your own can feel your pain." [p. 30]

Is Babi being cynical, or is what she is saying correct? When things changed for the Jews, how did the Hungarian neighbors act? What parallels can you find in American history?

4. The day before the Davidowitz family is hauled off to the ghetto, Piri gives Ica Molnar her most valuable possession, her phonograph. Ica's eyes plead, "I did not mean to cause you harm." [pp. 147–48]

What harm does this refer to? Was it something that she did, or something she didn't do? Ica is about fourteen years old. Should we overlook Ica's actions or inactions because she is still a child, or should we hold her to the same standards as those for adults?

5. Talk about anti-Semitism as it became systemized in Hungary -– from not allowing the children to go to school, to requiring Jews to wear the Star of David, finally to deportation. How did it affect the Davidowitz family and their Jewish and Gentile neighbors? How did the Davidowitz family cope with each stage?

6. In the spring of 1944, Hungarian police come for Piri and her family. They refer to a census list to make sure every family member is accounted for. As each name is called, it is crossed off with a thick black line. Discuss the symbolism of this act.

7. Many Jews in the ghetto were taken there without being allowed to bring any possessions or had their possessions seized from them upon arrival. Iboya offered to help a woman with no provisions get blankets for her and her child. "You will have a mitzvah," the woman blessed her. [p. 155]

A mitzvah is an act of pure goodness, big or small, done with no expectation of reward or thanks. You don't have to be Jewish to perform a mitzvah. Have you ever been on the receiving end of a mitzvah? Have you ever done something that would be called a mitzvah?

8. Talk about the different people in Goat. Who is the most interesting? Which one has the most vitality? Which character is most like you or your friends?

9. Piri felt sorry for Judi. She [Judi] had been misled by her liberal upbringing to believe that she did not have to live by restricting rules. She had been taught she was a Hungarian, but now found out she was a Jew. Her false security was crumbling and she had no identity to hold on to. [p. 206]

Is this a necessary pitfall of assimilation? Does assimilation have to strip you of your ethnic or religious identity?

10. Government inspectors came to the Davidowitz home and confiscated Ladybeard, the family's goat and only source of milk for the children. Piri asks her mother what they would do with Ladybeard. Mother responds, "Send her into the wilderness with their sins, I suppose." [p. 100]

Mother's answer is a reference to the Bible, Leviticus 16, and the origin of the term "scapegoat." How were the Jews of Europe like Ladybeard? Why did the Germans and their sympathizers make them scapegoats? Do we still blame the troubles of society on groups of people, making them scapegoats for our own shortcomings? Explain.

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Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary, 1939-1944 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A young Jewish girl -- nine when we first meet her and nearly fourteen when the book ends -- experiences the beginning of World War II with her parents in Hungary (and her grandmother in the Ukraine). Eventually, she, her family, and all the Jews of their small town, are forced to leave their homes and await a train that will take them to Auschwitz. This is a terribly sad coming-of-age story that is accessible to children older than ten. It doesn't explain the Holocaust, but it goes further than most books in allowing readers to 'experience' the fear, confusion, and especially the courage felt and displayed by the characters. Indeed, the author, who based the story of her own experiences, does an outstanding job drawing all the characters, including a number of the non-Jewish townspeople and one particular non-Jewish Hungarian soldier. It is especially interesting to learn so much about small-town life in the Hungarian-Ukrainian border region. It is sad, but not at all morose. It is inspirational -- because so many characters, young and old, display courage and fortitude in the face of increasing misfortune. And it is filled with compassion -- you almost feel sorry for the non-Jews who turn their backs on their Jewish neighbors. In one scene, the young narrator, who can only take a few items with her into the ghetto, gives her record player and records to her non-Jewish friend, to hold for her until she returns, even though they have not spoken to each other since the Jewish children were excluded from the town's schools. You can feel the hope of the narrator that someday she might return, get back her records, and they can play together again. And you can feel the shame the non-Jewish friend feels -- wanting to still be friends, but feeling constrained by the societal pressure to ostracize the Jews. At one point the author recalls her Grandmother's words that Jews and non-Jews 'are all the children of God.' But she is looking at a German guard preparing to force them on to the train to Auschwitz. And she wonders if this cold, grey man -- who is ignoring all the suffering around him -- is also a child of God. Clearly, the author does not draw any of the Nazi characters compassionately. On the other hand, their actions and their treatment of others evoke our pity, more than our hatred -- for they, the Nazis, had clearly forgotten that all people are 'the children of God.' This book is filled with the 'humanity' and 'humankindness' exhibited by the Jews who are subjected to oppression, hatred and derision, but who respond by helping each other and those who are less fortunate. The author expresses very little hatred towards the oppressor. But I was left with a terrible sadness, knowing that the German and Hungarian oppressors chose to act inhumanely -- they did it to themselves -- they denied their 'humanity.' There is no way that I could forgive such horrible people, but this book is the first book that made me pity them. I look forward to reading the sequel: 'Grace in the Wilderness.'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fantastic read. Would definitely read again.
cjohn64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. At first I was bored with it. But as I read on I became increasing interested in it. This book, like the one on Marian Anderson, I happen to have auditory stimuli while reading it. I was substituting a U.S. history class and the students were watching a WWII film. So while I read about the Germans and Piri¿s story I also was hearing about the Germans and listening to war stories and battle noises. I became more involved in the story. Once they were in the ghetto the story became the most interesting. I was a little disappointment that I didn¿t get to know what happened to her in Auschwitz. I would have like to had heard more. I feel a little empty after reading the afterword. I don¿t know if I would use this book in any of my classes. I don¿t think I would use it for talking about the Holocaust. It could be helpful for showing how people were treated but I don¿t know about using the whole book.
wackermt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Upon the Head of the Goat is the memoir of a young Hungarian girl who grew up during the beginning of World War II. The story chronicles her life in three locations, which underscore the events in history. She begins in the Ukrainian countryside, where she is open and free with her grandmother, then moves with her mother to the more closed in city in Hungary as events and atrocities begin to intensify, and finally to the ghetto where all of the Jewish families are thrown into close quarters and squalor to await an unknown fate.This book differs from many holocaust era memoirs in that it transpires entirely during the buildup of events, and does not describe the authors experiences in a concentration camp or similar situations. Because of this, it provides a more relatable story for the average reader who can never truly empathize with holocaust suffering.This book does not standout as the most memorable of book I have read of the genre. Perhaps because the author does not seem concerned with time passing as a frame of reference, which makes it sometimes hard to keep in mind exactly how old the author is, or the other characters are in relation to her.The reading level is not too advanced, and it does not aim to deliberately shock the sensibilities, making it an appropriate read for a younger, perhaps middle school level, audience.
kharding on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Upon the Head of a Goat tells the story of a young girl growing up in Hungary during the Holocaust. Much of this book takes place before Hungary is invaded by the Germans. As a result we learn a lot about Hungary during this time period before the Holocaust. We learn about the main character, Piri's, family life, interests and her relationship to her religion and her society. Through her travels and stories about place, we get a great sense of physical, and cultural geography of this region. Further, we learn about the terror of the Holocaust through the perspective of the eyes of a character who we have grown to know over a hundred and fifty pages. When entering the second half of the book, titled "The Ghetto" the reader feels a sense of dread. I have read a few books about the Holocaust but this is the first one I have read with such strong character development. I think this would be a great book to use when teaching the Holocaust, but also know that a lot of additional information would need to supplement this book. When I thought about the possibility of teaching this book I thought it might be interesting to teach this book in two different classes. It would be ideal to teach the first section of the book in a Geography course and the second half in a world history or American History class that covers the Holocaust. This would require a lot of planning to remind students of this character and to stay invested in her story. However, I feel that carrying a story through multiple classes allows a personal reference for kids which makes them feel more a part of history and the world.
laurenryates on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Piri is a young girl growing up during the time of the German invasion in Hungary. She lives with her mother, older sister, younger brother and younger sister. Her father is a prisoner of war and her mother is doing everything in her power to keep the family together with their spirits up. I really enjoyed reading about Piri and things taking place from her young point of view. I especially liked reading about when the family is taken to the ghetto and how her mother sets up a tent to give them privacy and does little things to make the day to day life more normal and less like an imprisonment. Her mother was a truly inspirational character. I also liked how the book was a snapshot of the events that took place before they were sent to the concentration camps. You rarely hear about the ghettos or what their life was like before the invasion. I really enjoyed this book and think it would be a great addition to any library.
amclellan0908 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Siegal walks us through her childhood experiences of growing up in Hungary during the onset of the Holocaust. After an extended stay with Bapi, Piri returns to her family home in Budapest and finds it changing slowly in response to the German's expansion of power in Europe. The slow escalation of prejudice runs through Piri's tale: we see her worrying about her friends' acceptance of her after she returns from Bapi's to an acknowledgement that the relationships had changed as Hungary became more anti-Semitic. Piri's family experiences difficulty: her step-father's imprisonment in the Russian front, her sister and brother-in-law's forced departure from Hungary, and concern for the health of her niece. Piri's mother attempts to hold the family together, which becomes more challenging as the neighborhood they call home becomes less and less accepting of their presence. Eventually, Piri's family is forced to enter the ghetto, and they depart for Auschwitz. This book could serve as an example of autobiography, as well as a companion piece to a Holocaust unit. I teach Night (Wiesel), and in addition to providing the perspective of a non-German Jew during the Holocaust, Siegal also highlights the female experience.
smoore75 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Upon the Head of the Goat tells the story of a young Jewish girl, Piri, as she and her family are experiencing World War II in Hungary. Beginning when Piri is nine years old and ending as she is turning fourteen. It begins with Piri in Komjaty visiting her grandmother, Babi. Komjaty is a small farming village in the Ukraine. Piri was sent to help care for her aging grandmother, but was to return to Hungary to begin school, but due to the war, all trains were shut down. Once the trains started running again and after a visit from her family, Piri returned to Hungary. As the war progressed, the story tells of how food began to be rationed, Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend public school, curfews were put into place for Jews, Jews had to wear a yellow Star of David and on until, the Jews were taken from their homes and put into a concentration camp at the edge of town. From there, they waited for weeks in extremely poor conditions for trains, which ultimately took them to Auschwitz. It is here that Piri and her sister Iboya are separated from the rest of their family (her mother and two young siblings) to work in the kitchen and never sees them again. I would recommend for an older group of students. It is a gripping story and a page turner.
jenunes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Upon the Head of a Goat is a gripping account of the trials of one Jewish family prior to life in the concentration camp. Whereas there are a plethora of books like Night and Maus, this tale did not focus on the horrors of the camp, which we see so very often depicted across every medium. Instead, we glimpse the slow unraveling of their world. As a history teacher, I knew the effects of WWII before, during, and after stretched wide across Europe. A perfect example of this is the television show Band of Brothers, which followed one platoon as they traversed through much of Europe. We can look at Saving Private Ryan, which occurred in France, or Miracle at St. Anna's, occurring in Italy. However, this is wonderful for students in an American History class, a World History class, or even a geography class, where they can get an in-depth look that goes beyond Auschwitz and Dachau. An entirely different perspective, and a fresh glimpse into a topic that should never be forgotten.
DayehSensei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A heartwrenching Holocaust memoir, this text stands apart from other books on the topic. Told by Holocaust survivor Aranka ("Piri") Seagal, "Upon the Head of the Goat" vividly details the hardships of the Jewish community in Hungary during World War II. Seagal's unflinching on her family, their hardships, tales of bravery, and their network of friends and neighbors in Beregszasz compells readers to form a deep connection with the characters. Seagal tells the story as objectively as possible, allowing readers to form their own emotions and repsonses. While I believe this text would be very challenging for a middle or high school audience, I think it would be extremely worthwhile. I highly recommend this book as an alternative to reading Elie Wiesel's "Night." I hope to see it on the shelves of every middle and high school library.
bpoche on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Upon the Head of the Goat is the story of Aranka Siegal's childhood in Hungary before and during the Holocaust. Before the German invasion, Piri(Siegal) and eventually her family spent time with her grandmother in a small farming village in the Ukraine. After returning home to Hungary, the family continued living as normal even though Piri's father had been shipped off to war in Russia. Piri and her family begin to realize the changes happening in Beregszasz, and as the Germans occupied Hungary, the family continued to rely on each other. The mother was a true source of inspiration for her children and for others; refusing to sit and wallow in pity for more than a brief moment. The family is eventuall forced to leave their home and stay at an improvised encampment with all the other Jewish families removed from Beregszasz. This ghetto is the final setting of the story as the family waits for the trains to arrive to take them to Germany.This story is very detailed, and Siegal paints a picture of strength and resilience within the Jewish community and even within her own family. Mrs. Davidowitz, like her daughters, is steadfast in her convitions and does all within her power to provide for those who are in need; Iboya and her work with Mr. Shwartz secretly transporting refugees is another example. The last few chapters can be difficult to read due to the reader's knowledge of the events to come; the Germans instructing people in the ghetto to pack and address their belongings because they would arrive on a separate train stood my hairs on end. This memoir a beautiful account of a childhood interrupted by savagery yet plagued by confusion. The commom theme throughout the book is Piri (not unlike the protaganist in Persopolis) does not quite understand what is happening around her and how serious it all is. High school history classes could use the book as an account of the Holocaust and events preceding it, or an English class could read and reflect on the family members, their differences, and their similarities.
Chrisdier on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, this book from Aranka Siegal will have you page-turning from the get-go. I have never heard of this book but once I started reading it I was very impressed. It tells the story of a young Hungarian girl, Piri, growing up in Hungary and the Ukraine, where her grandmother Babi lives. She learns the realities of war and anti-Semitism at a very young age, and she is torn in a harsh world that she has no choice but to be in. Her mother tries everything to get her out (even sending to America), but was of no avail. They tried to make do in Hungary but it became too much. She eventually ends up in Auschwitz. I would certainly use this book with discussing the Holocaust to students. I found it much better than the Dairy of Anne Frank. However, I do not know if I¿d replace it with Night, which changed my life. Upon the Head of the Goat will do really well with 8th grade, while Night might be more suitable for high school students. Either way, this book is shows an inside glimpse of life in Hungary under Nazi occupation through the eyes of a young and confused girl.
JLCasanova on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Upon the Head of the Goat tells the story of an adolescent Jewish girl whose city is taken over by German Nazis. Piri is only nine years old at the start of the book and is sent to stay with her grandmother in the country town of Komjaty in the Ukraine. Due to a civil war between Ukraine and Hungary, she is unable to return home. By the time she arrives back to her hometown, she notices that things are very different in her town. Eventually her family is forced to move into a ghetto located in the town¿s brick factory. History teachers can use this book to give students an understanding of the life that many Jews had to live during the Holocaust. Students can also learn about Hungary and Ukraine and see where they are located on a map. Science teachers can have students learn about how much food and water is necessary to keep a person alive. They can study how many calories the prisoners in the ghettos received each day and discuss the effects of malnutrition. English teachers can have students write an essay explaining the significance of the title of the book. Students could also write a poem that would be similar to the poem Piri wrote for her sister¿s birthday. They could also imagine themselves stuck in Beregszasz and write letters to family members that are in America or another country. Students can also make a comparison between Upon the Head of the Goat and Night or the Diary of Anne Frank or any other Holocaust book. This book has a simple style and can be read by younger students, but because of the subject matter I would recommend it more for middle school and high school students. The author¿s style helps the read connect to the story and keeps the reader interested. The book follows chronological order as the reader watches Piri grow from a nine-year-old child to a thirteen-year-old young lady. It is broken into three separate sections: Komjaty, which is where her grandmother lives; Beregszasz, where her Piri lives with her mother; and the Ghetto, where her family is relocated. There is no table of contents, bibliography, or index. It does not even contain information on the author. The only thing that the book does contain is the ¿afterword¿ which explains what happened to her family after they boarded a train. There is one photograph at the very beginning of the book of some of the members of Piri¿s family. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Holocaust. The only thing that I did not like about the book was that I was left wondering what happened to the family. I would definitely buy this for my library, and I plan to recommend it to the English teachers at my school who teach Night.
chelsea6273 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting memoir about a young girl's childhood in Hungary during World War II. I truly loved this book, and would use it in either middle or high school classrooms. The author, Aranka Siegal, is highly qualified to write this book because she wrote about her own experiences. Meant for middle or high school students, this book is an easy, engaging book that gives an alternative view on what life was like surrounding World War II in Europe. Rather than writing a book that primarily took place in a concentration camp, Siegal's memoir focuses on life before Hitler got to Hungary and before concentration camps. It pictured every day life in rural and suburban/urban Hungarian and Ukrainian life. Even the reader can feel the suspense of Hungary's inevitable capture. The format of the book, which is broken into three sections, worked well for the atmosphere of the text because each section was about where Piri, the narrator, was. The book was largely based on the localities of the narrator's family members and friends, tying the importance of each of the book's sections to location. As with other memoirs, there was no glossary, notes, or bibliography was included in this text.
rwilliamson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Upon the Head of a Goat" would be useful to show students the size of World War II. It is also a narrowly focused book This book concentrates on the author's family from the time just before Germany invaded Hungary up to the point that the family boards a train to a concentration camp. It was interesting to see how life changed in small increments. In the beginning the Davidowitz's were like any other family in their town. However little by little their neighbors pulled away and eventually all of the Jews in the area were moved into a ghetto. There are numerous ways this book could be taught across the curriculum. In social studies students could create maps and timelines. They could also research some of the traditions that were in the book. For English I might compare it with Anne Frank, or In Between Shades of Gray (a story of a Lithuanian family deported by Stalin). The uber-organization of the Nazi's lends itself to numerous math lessons using the Nazi records available online. Students could also attempt to figure the interest on peoples life insurance policies that have not yet been paid, etc.
jaisidore on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Aranka Siegal¿s memoir Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944 is a depiction of her life as a young girl during the World War II era. Known as Piri, Siegal introduces the audience to her experiences of being a Jew living in Europe and having to face the ravages of the Holocaust.She enlightens the reader by providing a full context of the increasing perils which climaxed into the mass killing of Jews during this period. Siegal begins with her time spent with her grandmother and leads in to the beginning processes of war. At this point, few of life¿s daily activities were disturb, but such events as the bodies floating down river foreshadowed the coming perils not realized by her and her family at the time. This keeps the reader engaged and wondering if the family will be out of the reach of the German forces. Siegal transitions more and more into the dangers of the time and struggles many felt as a consequence of war. In a brilliant way, the context of this work builds the reader a vivid image of living life in an atmosphere of the unknown and unexpected. It infers that no one could have known or anticipated the severe totality of destruction which would befall upon them. As a resource to teach about the Holocaust, this memoir would be ideal for the reasons stated above. Students would be engaged and enjoy how Siegal narrative would help provide a fully developed perspective of events. One shortcoming would be that the book does not offer leads to other resources that would further expand upon her work and other events of the Holocaust.
jamiesque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Upon the Head of a Goat is a plainly told memoir of a 9 year-old Jewish girl, Piri, growign up during WWII. The book is broken up into three sections: Komjaty, a Ukranian village, Beregszasz, her Hungarian home, and The Ghetto where her and her family are forced after their city is evacuated. The tone is matter-of-fact. It is not didactic or preachy; it is the tale of a survivor. The memoir spans the years 1939-1944. The book is Aranka Siegal's tale, yet the main character is named Piri. In the photo at the beginning of the book, she identifies all of the family members, however, she lables herself 'Piri.' Why did she change her name? Was it a nickname or term of endearment given to her by her family? Or, perhaps it provides some distance between author and character when writing? Was using her own name too traumatizing, or,in contrast, by using a personal, private family name, was a more personal ora invoked? The story has various themes throughout. One is information or the lack thereof. In the beginning of the book Piri is shielded from truth by her grandmother. Newspapers are hidden from her. When Piri sees dead bodies of soldiers in a river, she inquires about the scene. Her grandmother stalls as long as she can until finally she asserts "They're at peace now." The matter is not discussed further. The complication of sending and recieving letters also plagues the families, and they live in a state of constant uncertainity. The Jewish community relies on itself for news of what is to come, though there isn't much. Whenever a new family enters the ghetto, they are prodded for information. Presently, with a 24-hour news cycle and internet access, it is so very difficult for students to imagine what it is to live starved for information. The characters in the book are so desperate for news of their world and yet, they are denied access. The end of the book is rather abrupt. For readers versed in history, the final page of the memoir is heart-wrenching. There, upon the page, is a word with such unfathomably horrid connotations and images that anyone associated with it is bound to have experienced suffering. In the last paragraph the readers learn that Piri and her family are going to 'Auschwitz.' And while that is basically the end of the book, it is by no means the end of the tale. There is an Afterword that relays what actually becomes of Piri and her family. While I appreciate the firmness with which the Aranka Siegal sticks to the genre of memoir, I grew fond of and concerned about the character and her family. I would have like to know more.
DustinB1983 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Upon the Head of the Goat¿ is Aranka Siegal¿s first hand account of a young girl¿s childhood in Hungary at the outbreak of Word War II. This story spans five years, starting from 1939 with a nine-year-old girl trying to enjoy a normal childhood. While she is visiting her grandmother, the war breaks out and she is unable to return to her family. When she is finally able to return, life in her hometown has changed a great deal. The struggles of her and her family in this period are described, including her mother¿s failed attempt to send her to the United States. The book ends in 1944 when the family is forced to a concentration camp. Siegal¿s story is gripping, fascinating, and heartbreaking. The book is a hard one to put down. Though it may have been written for a young audience, I find it a good read as an adult. Due to the content and presentation, I would find it most appropriate for a high school student. The Holocaust is a difficult and sensitive topic; it is impossible to talk about with discussing horror, tragedy, and cruelty. It is also an important topic. For one, it is an important lesson in history, one that seems to be repeating itself in the horrific acts of dictators in remote parts of the world. Also, it is a series of events that continues to impact our world. The difficulty comes in how to teach it. Siegal¿s story is a first hand account and gives students an idea of what their life would have been like growing up in similar circumstances. Of course, in order to understand the book to its fullest, it would be best for students to have background knowledge on WWII and the Holocaust. I think this would be a very useful resource in a classroom for teaching the impact that the Holocaust had on regularly individuals and families at the most basic level.
kratzerliz23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very graphic and detailed account of life in a Jewish community during the Nazis take over of Hungary. It is a great book to teach children about family and how important it is to stick together, no matter what. This would be an excellent book to read in a high school history class. As a math teacher the statistics needed for math problems would be time consuming to look up for a lesson. It could be done, but other books are easier to use for math. I have previously read other holocaust books such as Ann Frank, but this book I had never heard of and I am glad I have been exposed to it.
jmsummer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells the story of a young jewish girls life during the outbreak of WWII. Where many books about the holocaust usally deal with the event inside the camps, this book takes a different approach. Over a 5 year period, we are drawn into her life. Not many of the holocaust books talk in any detail about the lives of the people experiencing this event. We see the author lose her childhood and grow up during this time of great tragedy.To see the day to day life reminds you that thes are people we are reading about, just like us. We are also seeing the point of view of people living in Hungry, a country that alied with and was latter occupied by the Germans. This is also different than many account of the Holocaust from those living in Germany and France, which is what is usally covered by many textbooks and history classes. I would use this book for any high school level course. This is a good way to have students learn about the significance of the holocaust to our modern history. We want our students to know that the things that happened in this book our still happening today in other parts of our world.
harriewatson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This memoir by Aranka Siegal covers the five years of life from the perspective of a pre-teen Jewish girl up to being delivered to the gates of Auschwitz in the spring of 1944. She and her family lived in Hungary and near-by Ukraine. The unusual focus of this book by a Holocaust survivor is her life prior to being imprisoned by the Nazis. Jews in Hungary managed to stay out of Hitler's clutches, but not his influence, until the May 1944, when the war in Europe had less than a year to continue. Hungary's leader Horthy resisted Hitler's final solution until he was forced out. The Jews in Hungary remained free from round-up, but not from escalating racism and deprivation. Piri's tale of how she and fellow Jews incrementally lost their rights, property, and many lives could be an interesting focus for young readers in discussion groups. Her tale is one of the systematic progressive "dehumanizing" of a group of people. High levels of Nazi officials did actually meet for conferences about how to accomplish the task of making a previously completely integrated segment of their population this group of others who could be despised and robbed of everything. They came up with the plan to do everything in small stages. Piri shared this story from the victim side. It was slow and gradual, with every step seeming survivable. Even at the end at the Brick factory, each family wrapped up their belongings and labeled them carefully so they would be reunited with them in Germany. By May 1944 the Germans knew that most of these Jews who had small children or were too feeble to work would be gassed probably right away. But the Germans set up the ruse about the belongings, because they knew it would keep the Jews hoping for a future and therefore, more controllable. The details of the author's life will be interesting to most young readers and the discussions of how and why her life changed will be mind-opening.
ydraughon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Aranka Siegal was awarded the NewBerry Honor award for Upn the Hed o The Goat. Aranka tells the story of her childhood as a Jewish girl in Hungary during World War II. In the story, Aranka goes by her Yiddish name Piri. She describes the daily life of herself and her family of how they lived in fear and of her determined mother to protect her family. The front cover includes a picture of Siegal and her family with the dates that the story takes place. A page is dedicated to the victims and the survivors of the holocost. The title comes from Leviticus 16 which is included on one of the first pages. There is not table of contents, index or glossary. The book ends when the family gets on the train to Auschwitz. There is an Afterword that tells the outcome of the family. The book is comparable to Ann Frank's diary. English teachers could compare the two and how they are written. History teachers could make a timeline of both girls and compare where they were and when did they enter the concentration camps. Investigate could their paths have crossed? Reading classes could compare the differences in how each girl lived. I think that the book was very interesting and would have it in my library if I serviced middle or high school students.
Brodk More than 1 year ago
I have just finishedUpon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944, by Aranka Siegal. Ms. Siegal, who is named "Piri" in the book, is a child visiting her grandmother in Ukraine when the book begins and the author is nine years old. She moves back to her mother in Hungary, sees her human rights gradually being curtailed under the Hungarian regime, and then 1944, when the German Army takes control of the country, she with her family are relocated to a ghetto and finally transported to Auschwitz. The author survives and emigrates to the United States in 1948. An interesting memoir/autobiography, written as YA, very little added to how people lived in German occupied or allied countries. Interesting to see, though. Here is my problem with the book. How much is true, and how much is "true"? The book is a detailed chronicle of the life of a child, to include whole conversations. But, BUT, how much could the author remember? Or, assuming she wrote it all down, how could she have kept it through the ghetto, the transport to a work camp, the final death march from Christianstadt to Bergen-Belsen, and finally her trip to America? The short answer is that she could have neither remembered it all nor kept her diary throughout her peregrinations and tribulations. Impossible. So, what do we have, and how should it be evaluated? The book must have been written from memories and recollections, and I do not believe that anyone could remember as much as is in this book. Just not possible. So, are we to believe it, and if so, do the details not matter, just the overall truth of the remembrances? I believe that a non-fiction book should be exactly that, non-fiction, not made up, not elaborated, not embellished. So for this reason I give the book two stars. I consider it fiction, because it is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago