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ISBN: 842398852X
ISBN 13: 9788423988525
By: Johanna Reiss

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About this book

The autobiographical decription of a Dutch Jewish girl's two-and-one-half years spent in hiding in the upstairs bedroom of a farmer's house during World War II.

Reader's Thoughts

Ginny Messina

This is the author’s own story—-written for her children—-of what it was like to live in a single room for three years, hiding from the Nazis, and losing precious years of childhood. She was 8 years old when she went into hiding along with her teenage sister. Because she lived this story and is a fine writer, Johanna Reiss does an outstanding job of depicting what a life in hiding is like for a child, especially one who doesn’t quite understand what is at stake. She also portrays her protectors—-an uneducated farm family--with warmth and honesty. They were frankly terrified and not very enthusiastic at first, but found themselves drawn into a commitment to keep the girls safe for the rest of the war against some incredible odds. Holocaust memoirs tend to be extraordinary, and this one is no exception.


Against my initial judgement of this book, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I am a type of person who likes to judge a book by its cover, and from this one, I thought the text might be a little too amatuer for my taste, but I found myself not wanting to put it down. The story begins in Winterswijk in the Netherlands and takes place during WWII. Annie, a young Jewish girl, and her sister, Sini, must hide out from the German soldiers and bounce around from hiding place to hiding place to avoid being sent to the concentration camps. From holes dug underground to tiny closet-spaced hole-in-the-walls, the story is told through the young and innocent eyes of Annie. Winner of the Newberry Honor Book, The Room Upstairs captivates its audience with terror, suspense, and an innocent sadness seen through the eyes of a six-year old girl.


I read this book because it fulfilled a category (award winner from the year I was born) in a book challenge in which I am participating. It is about two Jewish sisters in Holland who hide out in the upstairs room of a Dutch family's home during World War II to escape the Nazis. The premise is obviously extremely interesting but the book actually was somewhat boring. Perhaps that was deliberate to reflect the boredom the two girls felt shut upstairs in hiding for more than two years but I just didn't really enjoy this book. I felt that the main character, Annie, who is 10 when the hiding begins, was (even for a 10 year old) totally oblivious to what was going on and the seriousness of their situation for most of the book. That just didn't resonate given the circumstances.

Allison Ford

The book is about a Dutch Jewish girl's two-and-one-half years spent in hiding in the upstairs bedroom of a farmer's house during World War II. It reminds me of the story about Anne Frank. Which i read in 7th grade. This was a good story to explain the hard times that the Jewish people had to go through during the Holocaust. It tells the story from a child’s perspective made the story even more real for the reader. She described all the hardships she and her family faced. This would be a good book for older elementary or middle school students to read when discussing World War II and the Holocaust. This is a good book from the perspective of a girl during this time. The students could write an essay putting themselves in the same situation.


I read this book originally as a 4th grader. In undergrad, as a sophomore in a class called "Jews and Anti-Semitism," I did an Honors Option where my professor (noted Holocaust scholar Kenneth Waltzer) assigned us to investigate true-life Holocaust memoirs. I picked this book, since I read it to pieces as a child, and I liked the way it had a quasi-happy ending (something you don't often get from Holocaust stories). I also managed to find the author on the Internet and wrote her a letter, to which she responded quite kindly. It is one of my most prized possessions, because I never thought she would write back, as it would be easy to blow off an American college student when you're elderly and living in Europe. I highly recommend this book and commend the author for all of her dedication to educating children.


A thoughtful look back at her experiences during World War II, Johanna Reiss tells the story of Sini and Annie, Jewish sisters in Holland who spend nearly three years in hiding to avoid capture by the Nazis. This is a sweet, if you can call something about this subject sweet, innocent story told through ten-year-old Annie's eyes. At first she doesn't understand the war and why people start to treat her differently just because she is Jewish. She talks about the stars that they have to start wearing on their clothes and the tree where notices are posted that "tells them they can't work anymore" and other demands that grow in seriousness. When they are first taken in to hiding, Annie doesn't really understand it and hates the boredom and stiffness of a life lived in an upstairs room, but she bears it with patience and optimism. She finally gets the chance to read the "real newspapers, not just the ones that tell lies" and reads of the concentration camps and what is really happening and then in this realization she promises to never complain about having to stay away from the windows and hide again.I was touched by the kindness of the family who takes in the sisters and others that help them even though they could be executed for it. It speaks to the human spirit that I find to be generally good and has the courage to act. This is a special read that shows the terror of the war in a meaningful way. I really liked the story told through Annie's eyes.

Melissa Winterman

A heart-wrenching look into what one family had to endure for years, and where it led them. The characters are lovable and believable, and tis is well written.

Tanner Huyck

In 1940 German tanks and soldiers invaded the city of Holland and then marched right along into Winterswijk,the hometown of Anne de Leeuw. Annie was a ten year old Jewish girl in danger of being captured by the Germans and taken to a concentration camp. Together her and her sister had to abandon their mother, father, and older sister to go into hiding in the upstairs room of a rural farmhouse. Johanna de Leeuw Reiss wrote a fantastic novel giving in depth detail about her personal accounts as a young girl living during World War II. The book provided great emotion and detail about life in the upstairs room and the thoughts going throughout her and Sinni, her sister. The book provides a level of optimism and strength as to being able to overcome difficult situations and know that everything will be alright. This is a classic and memorizing book that will be around to read for many years.

Chloe Chapman

I read the autobiography “The Upstairs Room” by Johanna Reiss. My favorite non-fiction books are about the Holocaust, and this book was on that topic. I wasn’t sure how I would like the book but it was really appealing and kept me reading. The book was told as the authors experience when she was younger. The book was a little bit boring at the beginning but go more interesting as it progressed. The author relayed information on how much distress was on the community and on Jewish people when the Nazis took over Germany. Annie de Leewu was the eight year old little girl that lived in Winterwijk with her sister Sini and her family. Germany attacked Holland two years later and the two girls had to leave their family and hide in the upstairs room of a remote farmhouse. Oosterveld family and the Gentile family were happy to take the girls in and care for them until their family came back. Annie and Sini were in danger because they are young Jewish girls and the Nazis were looking for them at the time. They were locked up in a small cramped room for two years instead of two months. It shows how the girls were so compassionate to be able to be so lucky during this time period and they always had each other. They had to hope for the best and keep their family members in their prayer because they didn’t know what was going to happen next. Nazis killed many Jews during the 1940s and Annie and Sini had to have strength everyday to motivate them to look on the bright side of the situation. It opens up my eyes to how grateful I am to not have to go everyday wondering if my family is still alive. These poor girls should not have to worry about such an awful idea. We should never take life for granted because one day you may have to go through as much pain as they did, and it may be something more painful, like death. I really enjoyed this book and it is one I would recommend to people who likes personal stories from the Holocaust. 4 out of 5 stars are what I give this book.

Andrea Fife

I bought this book at a secondhand store with the hope to add it to my 5th grade library. Written from the perspective of a 10 year old, the sentence structure and vocabulary are at a perfect level for a young audience. However, the mildly profane language of a few adult characters will likely keep it off the classroom shelves. Instead, I will keep it in my home library, ready for my sons to read as an introduction to the haunting historical fiction and nonfiction from WWII.

Tiffany Wacaser

I had never heard of this little book, but happened upon it at the library while my kids were at storytime. It is a true story of two Jewish girls who lived with a Dutch family, secretly, for two years at the end of World War II. The story is told from the younger girl's perspective and is related simply without excessive emotion or excessive explanations. Without embellishment you see the way events unfolded for the Jews in Holland as they faced uncertainty and then great fear when the Germans invaded and then occupied Holland. The story doesn't go into a lot of detail about what happened to those Jews who were taken to camps and then killed. But it lies in the back of the mind of the reader throughout the story. What is remarkable is that the family who hid the girls grew to love them very much. This is a story about courage and relationships as much as it is about the war. The author said she wrote the book to record her history for her daughters. As such, it is a touching book. I think it would be a good introduction to the Holocaust for younger readers. In comparing it to The Diary of Anne Frank, I would have to say that Anne Frank's diary is much more intense because she lived in Amsterdam and the fear of being discovered was much more frightening. And of course, we know that Anne was caught and died at a camp. What makes The Upstairs Room different is that she survived and had to live with what had happened to her and many others. It seems she transcended her experiences and lived a good life. But be prepared, the last page probably describes all the emotion, tension and fear of the two years of hiding in a sentence that somehow makes the impact that much more powerful than if it had been repeated over and over again throughout the book.


Elida AlmarazMs.KwanAdvisory9D/901The Upstairs RoomBy: Johanna ReissBook Review The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss is about a jewish girl named Annie. Annie suffers when people of her kind are treated unfairly. it isn't safe for her and her family to stay in their country which is why they have to go away. It was to late to leave because Holland's borders were now being guarded by German Soldiers. The De Lueew family were under bad circumstances and caused Annie's parents to make drastic decisions. Annie's family had to split it leading this situation to more trouble. Johanna Reiss teaches us a lesson on how people had to suffer in order to be safe. Books like The Upstairs Room shows and teaches the readers historical events and information on what people did. Annie is a perfect example of how the historical event of the Holocausts had a huge impact on the jewish community.


I read this to the kids for History as it's a story of a young Jewish girl who had to go into hiding in Holland during WWII. It's the author's true story and made very real through her writing. I loved the "Postscript" as the author shared her experience as an adult, taking her daughters back to Holland to see the house where she hid, meet the family that hid her, and see her old hiding place. It was emotional for me envisioning that.

Alison Flemming

The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss (Harper Trophy) 196p. Historical Fiction. (in textbook). Summary: This book takes place during the time of the Holocaust with a family who is Jewish. It describes how hard the times were and what the family had to go through since they were Jewish. Critique:a. This was a good story to explain the hard times that the Jewish people had to go through during the Holocaust.b. Telling the story from a child’s perspective made the story even more heartwarming. She described all the hardships she and her family faced. c. On page 52 she describes being locked in the room while it’s snowing and other children are playing outside and building snowmen. Then on page 156 she describes the house that they are hiding in is now suppose to become German headquarters. This poses a major problem for them. Curriculum Connection: This would be a good book for older elementary or middle school students to read when discussing World War II and the Holocaust. This is a good book from the perspective of a girl during this time. The students could write response journals while they are reading the book or write an essay after they are done with the book putting themselves in that situation.


The main issue of the book is World War Two. Annie is a Jew, and so she had to hide from the Nazis. She and her sister, Sini, have to separate from the rest of their family. They have to hide in an upstairs room. This book is set in the Holocaust. They live in Holland. This book wouldn't even be a good book if it wasn't in this setting. The whole book has to do with the Holocaust, so if it weren't it wouldn't be a book. The main character is Annie. She's a little girl. She has to go through a lot, and she doesn't even realize the real threat of the war for a long time. The antagonist would be Adolf Hitler. He is the whole reason this whole thing happened. He was really mean, and killed most of the Jews.I really liked this book. One of the things I liked the most is how real it feels. The author is the main character so it really gives you a feel for it. It really helped me realize how terrible this time was, and how scary it was for the Jews."Jew, Jew, ugly mole, stick your face in a dirty hole. Stick your face in a mustard pot, by tomorrow Jew will rot" I disliked that quote cause it shows how mean the gentiles are to the Jews. Theme: Those who try their hardest and do the most that they can do, usually get what they want.I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants a new way to learn about World War Two. I didn't notice the real problems of it till I read this book.

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