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The Inside Name - by Randi Sonenshine (Hardcover)

The Inside Name - by  Randi Sonenshine (Hardcover) - image 1 of 1
The Inside Name - by  Randi Sonenshine (Hardcover) - image 1 of 1
$16.69 sale price when purchased online
$16.95 list price

About this item


  • A National Jewish Book Award Finalist for 2024"A gentle exploration of a cruel episode in European history.
  • 6-9 Years
  • 8.3" x 6.6" Hardcover
  • 48 Pages
  • Juvenile Fiction, Religious


About the Book

During the Portuguese Inquisition a boy and his family are forced to hide their Jewish identities from the outside world until a secret message sets them on a course to freedom in this illustrated historical fiction beginner chapter book.

Book Synopsis

A National Jewish Book Award Finalist for 2024

"A gentle exploration of a cruel episode in European history." --Kirkus Reviews

Felipe has a secret. He and his family are conversos--Jews forced to convert to Christianity after 1497 but who maintained their Jewish identities and practices behind closed doors. Even his real name, his Jewish name, is a secret. Felipe is his outside name, the only one it is safe to use. The one his mother tries not to use. She whistles for him instead. But with the coming of the Inquisition from Spain to Portugal, it becomes more dangerous for them to continue to live a secret life. That is when a local priest, also a converso, finds a way for Felipe and his family to escape, to emigrate to a place where a young boy can be called by his real name.

Spotlighting the Sephardic Jewish converso culture in 1500's Portugal, this illustrated historical fiction chapter book for ages 6-9 includes an end note explaining the lives of Portuguese conversos, how the Inquisition came from Spain to Portugal in 1536, making life even more dangerous for them, and the role of Gracia Nasi Mendes, a wealthy and influential converso who used her large sailing fleet and her international connections to help families flee.

Review Quotes

A child navigates his Lisbon neighborhood as a converso, a
Jew compelled to practice Catholicism in Spain and Portugal during the

The boy takes readers through his city and ponders the
religious intolerance that has turned neighbors against him and forced his
family to keep their Jewish observance a secret. Though the author acknowledges
the threat of violence and imprisonment for forced converts, she leans toward
optimism, depicting a loving, intact family who seek a way out. Interspersed
with moments of dread and sadness, the narrative highlights details about
secret religious practice, such as hiding a mezuzah under the tiles of the
doorframe, lighting Shabbat candles inside a jar on the hearth, and using an
"inside name," a Hebrew name employed only in the privacy of the home. This
short chapter book features illustrations on every spread as well as occasional
text boxes that offer definitions and historical context, though the vocabulary
will be a stretch for many younger readers. Saturated colors for the clothes
and buildings imply the visual richness of the city, but the soft lines of the
watercolor-like illustrations provide limited expression in the human faces. A
historical note presents more details about conversos and discusses Doña
Gracia, who used her wealth to rescue Jewish people trapped by the Inquisition.

A gentle exploration of a cruel episode in European history.
(Chapter book. 6-9)
--Kirkus Reviews

The target audience for Randi Sonenshine's lovely new book The Inside Name is young middle graders, but this 44 page hardcover reads more like a sophisticated picture book. The first person narrative tells the story of a young boy in 15th century Lisbon named Felipe Alonso. At least, that is his outside name. He and his family are conversos, Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition. The family practices Judaism in secret, so their Jewish names, their inside names, are never spoken outside of their home. On his way to and from an errand for his mother, Felipe is called horrible names by the city's knife grinder and is chased by boys intent on terrorizing him. Sonenshine shows what can become of Jews in Portugal at this time as Felipe recalls his friendship with Solomon, whose family is imprisoned in a monastery For the journey, Felipe brings a cutting from his grandfather's lemon tree, so he can plant some seeds at his new home in Antwerp. The voice here is strong; the reader will really feel that the story is being told by a boy who must live every day with secrets and in fear for his safety. The text is almost poetic in its spare form and its beautiful imagery, and the watercolor illustrations are an excellent complement to the text.

This is not a story that Jewish children are exposed to often; it's certainly not a story that non-Jewish children would know. The scarcity of such Inquisition books in mainstream children's literature supports the theory that Jewish histories outside of Holocaust narratives are often ignored. The Inside Name should be considered for a Sydney Taylor Honor or Notable designation.

Dimensions (Overall): 8.3 Inches (H) x 6.6 Inches (W) x .4 Inches (D)
Weight: .55 Pounds
Suggested Age: 6-9 Years
Sub-Genre: Religious
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Number of Pages: 48
Publisher: Apples & Honey Press
Theme: Jewish
Format: Hardcover
Author: Randi Sonenshine
Language: English
Street Date: October 10, 2023
TCIN: 86186859
UPC: 9781681156194
Item Number (DPCI): 247-00-9556
Origin: Made in the USA or Imported
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Shipping details

Estimated ship dimensions: 0.4 inches length x 6.6 inches width x 8.3 inches height
Estimated ship weight: 0.55 pounds
We regret that this item cannot be shipped to PO Boxes.
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