When I began looking for books for the Jewish Literature Challenge, I thought immediately of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic. It follows the story of a young Jewish girl named Hannah Stern. Hannah is tired of her Grandpa ranting about the Holocaust, and wishes she could spend Seder with her Gentile friends.
When her family asks her to symbolically open the door to invite the prophet Elijah in, she finds her self in the Poland of 1942. Everyone there thinks she's a young girl named Chaya, who survived the cholera that killed her family. She tries to explain to them that she's from a different time & place, but they think she's still feverish from her illness.
She slowly acclimates to her new surroundings, but during her uncle's wedding, the Nazis come to relocate the entire village to a concentration camp. Hannah tries to warn them of the dangers they face...starvation, gas chambers, hard work...but they don't believe her. After all, how would a young girl know of such things?
This book is a sobering look at just some of the realities of the Holocaust. It was the 1989 winner of the National Jewish Literature Award for children's literature. It's a very fast read, and its skillful writing pulls you into the story line immediately.