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

Aranka Siegal

Square Fish



Trade Paperback

224 Pages



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A Newbery Honor Book
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
Winner of the Janusz Korczak Literary Award

To nine-year-old Piri, war was only a word until the German soldiers came, closing the borders and turning her summer vacation at her grandmother's farm into a year-long stay—a year during which she learned far too much about fear and fighting. Returning to her home in Hungary when the borders reopened, Piri discovered that life would never be the same again. For with Hitler in power, no place was safe if you were Jewish . . .


Praise for Upon the Head of the Goat

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

"Powerful . . . Heartrending . . . Piri's point of view adds poignancy to an account of one of the great tragedies of our time."—The Horn Book

"At the outbreak of World War II, 9-year-old Piri is visiting her grandmother in the Ukrainian countryside and is unable to return to her family in the Hungarian town of Beregszász. Aranka Siegal, the Piri of the narrative, finally comes home the following year but finds her life forever changed: her father is serving on the Russian front, and her mother's attempt to secure passage to America for her children fails . . . Food and supplies are scarce, and despite new restrictions, Rise Davidowitz maintains her family's traditional customs and tries to hold her family together until she and Iboya, Piri, Sandor and Joli are taken . . . to Auschwitz in 1944 . . . A sensitive portrait of a remarkable young girl and her family."—School Library Journal (starred review)

"Siegal records one of the most powerful accounts yet written by a survivor of the Third Reich."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



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

  • Aranka Siegal, one of seven children, was raised in Beregszász, Hungary. During World War II, when Aranka was thirteen, she and her family were moved from their home to the Beregszász brick factory, which had been turned into a ghetto to house Jews. Shortly thereafter, they were deported to Auschwitz. Upon their arrival on May 9, 1944, she and her older sister were separated from the rest of the family, and they never saw them again.

    Eventually, the two girls were sent to Bergen-Belsen, and in 1945 they were rescued by the British First Army. Through the Swedish Red Cross, Aranka and her sister were then taken to Sweden, where they lived for three and a half years before immigrating to the United States.
  • Aranka Siegal richard olsen



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