By Jerry Spinelli

Plot Summarization

The main character, later known as Misha Pilsudski lived in the city of Warsaw, Poland like a king with his friend Uri in the barber shop cellar while the Jackboots(Nazis) controlled the city. Until one day when the Ghetto is finished and Misha begins fighting for his life with the food shortage in the Ghetto. Throughout his time in the Ghetto will he be has to evade being hung for crimes, being shot at by Jackboots, and being killed by the worst Flop of them all, Buffo. Will Misha survive his time in the Ghetto or will he be killed first?

The Theme

The theme of Milkweed is, If your survival is at risk then it is okay to do something wrong in order to save your survival. During the story Misha Pilsudki steals food from others to insure his own along with some friends' survival. During the book Misha also protects his friend, Janina in order to save her life by always being ahead of her to make sure it is safe. Misha also obeyed the Jackboots so he did not get killed by the Jackboots.

Research: Warsaw Ghetto

375,000 Jewish people lived In Warsaw, Poland before World War Two. In 1939 after Poland surrendered the first anti-Jew decree was created and the Jews were forced to wear white armbands with a blue Star of David. In October 1940 it was announced by a Judenrat lead by Adam Czerniakow that a Ghetto was being established and it was finished November 16, 1940. After all refugees the Ghetto held 450,000 people. The living conditions were unbearable because there was little to no food available in the Ghetto and six or seven people lived in each room. More than 80,000 Jews died in the Ghetto and when deportations to the death camp Treblinka began and instead of preparing the list of Jews that were to be deported Adam Czerniakow committed suicide on July 23, 1942.

How the Warsaw Ghetto Relates to the Book

The Ghetto relates by being in the book itself and holding Jews captive. The Ghetto also relates by being the place Misha Pilsudski lives. Also in the book, the only way Misha and his friends get food is by smuggling food which you would have to do in the Ghetto as well. Another part to that is, Misha and his friends have to wear an armband like the Jews did in real life.


"The Holocaust." Holocaust History. Web. 5 Feb. 2015. <>.