Reader Responses

Responses to If I Could Paint the Moon Black

If I Could Paint the Moon Black is a gripping and illuminating story from the first page, when Soviet cattle cars roll into the Vaivara, a town in Estonia without cows.  It is a story of childhood, but no ordinary childhood, a nine-year-old and her mother caught in the nowhere land between Hitler and Stalin.  It is a childhood under occupation, a childhood in hiding and ultimately in flight to freedom.  Imbi Peebo Truumees seems to have remembered everything, and Nancy Burke had the great sense to recognize a great storyteller and a great story the moment she encountered them.  Burke has translated memory into memoir, giving it an unforgettable shape and form, a form all the more powerful for its concreteness, its revealing lack of adornment.  It is a magnificent collaboration, a precious gift to historians, who are only now beginning to realize how much of the War played out in the Baltic “Bloodlands,” and to all the rest of us, for the ages.  – James Goodman, PhD,  Professor of History and Creative Writing at Rutger’s Newark MFA in Creative Writing, author of But Where is the Lamb, Blackout and Stories of Scottsboro.

Nancy Burke offers a significant contribution to the literature of eye witness accounts with her beautifully written account of Imbi Peebo Truumees’ life as an Estonian child refugee during World War II. Toomey writes Imbi’s story with great care and suspense that strikes a perfect balance between descriptions of place and event, childhood pleasures and overwhelming fears. The reality of what happened in during the war years can only really be glimpsed through those who lived through it and understood their experiences. Imbi is a brave and perceptive person, and Toomey gives her the justice she deserves.  — Alice Elliott Dark, Professor of English and Creative Writing, Rutgers’ Newark MFA in Creative Writing Program, author of Think of England, In the Gloaming,  and Naked to the Waist

“There are so many statistics I could cite that would illustrate the brutality endured by people living under occupations by both Hitler and Stalin. Imbi Peebo’s story, written by her friend Nancy Burke, cuts right through the clutter of history’s recorded facts, to reveal a very human story of survival under those dark circumstances.  While Imbi is not alone in that experience, her story represents tens of thousands more people….all whose stories deserve to be heard.  This is a good place to begin to listen.” — James Tusty, co-filmmaker of “The Singing Revolution” and “To Breathe As One”.

“… with vivid descriptions of an interesting era, a ‘moving’ read..”

P1020280 – Beth, 94 years young, Reedsport, Oregon

“My daughter on the Big Island ordered “If I Could Paint the Moon Black” from Amazon for me and I picked it up when I visited her earlier this month…

I finished reading it yesterday… oh, what an incredible book it was!!! Since I don’t know much about Eastern Europe it was an eye opener. What an experience Imbi had!!! She is only 2 yrs older than I… I could relate to the scarcity of food during the WAR and what it meant to live with bombings.

I appreciated your listing of characters at the beginning of the book, who is who. I do that on my own sometimes when I am reading a book, especially Chinese names and so does my spouse when he reads books with the Asian names, so thank you for that…

You write so well and I appreciated the description of places as well as the family values.

I have a friend in Japan, Izumi Koishi, who is learning to be a translator of English books. I will mention about your book when I see her in Tokyo in April.” – Masu Dyer, Hawaii

Responses to From the Abuelas’ Window

From the Abuelas’ Window is like Number the Stars. It’s about human rights and children making a difference when they can.
Emily Schostack, age 12

“Magnificent! You won’t want to take your eyes off it once you begin!”
Julia Pearlstein-Levy, age 13

“A great read for mother/daughter book groups!”
Holly Feltham

“It’s about family and love and empowerment…strong women”
Margaret Gravvanis, middle school teacher

“There are not many stories out there that are excellent but at the same time educational. Maribel leads us through an unforgettable journey that teaches us about
Chile’s culture.”
Child Reviewer, 8th grade

“The result is a richly engaging debut novel, a story written for young readers that is equally satisfying as an adult read…”
TaRessa Stovall, Montclair Times

“It was amazing. Every flip of the page brought excitement, anger, joy…”
Child Reviewer, 8th grade

Additional reviews of From the Abuelas’ Window


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