A Bag of Marbles - Joseph Joffo I have downgraded this from four to three stars. Perhaps b/c this is my review, and I am not a young adult. Please see the comments between Lisa and I below. Should a book be written for a specific audience? Isn't a really good book going to work just as well for kids and adults?!

This is an excellent book about being a child in France during WW2. I was not aware when I began the book that it was a young adult book. It is not fiction, but a memoir written by a father who then at that time was only 10 - 12 years oold. I originally thought that when Joseph(the author) and his brother Maurice escaped from Vichy controlled France into the free zone the events were presented too childishly, even for a YA book. The events that follow awaken fear in the boys. The game comes to an end. There is a very good afterword that discusses this issue. This is exactly how the author meant to draw the picture. It WAS a game in the beginning. Two young Jewish boys set out on their own to get from Paris to Nice. Originally the money given to them by their father seemed immense; they were excused from school; it WAS an adventure. However they soon were to learn that living alone in the free zone was fraught with danger.They were confronted with the horrors of war, they matured through these experiences, but nevertheless in heart and spirit they remained children.

The writing, descriptions of places and people and the emotions experienced, was very well done. The reader sees the world around these two boys through the eyes of a child,. This is an excellent book to be used as a tool for learning. A child will enjoy it because it is written from their perspective.

The afterward is very important. Perhaps a teacher or an adult reader should read that first. I wish I had. Several important issues are discussed and explained. I would have enjoyed, particularly the beginning, more. One thing was lacking - a map of the boys' travels in France.