Tag Archives: Holocaust

Stumbling on History by Fern Schumer Chapman

Stumbling on History: An Art Project Compels a Small German Town to Face Its Past by Fern Schumer Chapman. August 1, 2016. Gussie Rose Press, 56 p. ISBN: 9780996472524.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 7.4.

“Who will remember?”

Edith Westerfeld, an 89-year-old Holocaust refugee, wonders if the memory of the Nazis murdering her parents, along with millions if other victims, will outlive the survivors. Now — 76 years after Edith’s parents saved their daughter’s life by sending her, alone and terrified, to America — she returns to the small German town where her family had lived for hundreds of years. Invited to witness the installation of a memorial to her family — part of an effort throughout Europe to confront the genocide of World War II — she experiences how art is helping today’s generation face and atone for crimes of the past.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of the Holocaust, Antisemitism, Anti-Romani sentiment, Xenophobia

 

 

About the Author

Critically acclaimed Chicago-based writer Fern Schumer Chapman has written several award-winning books. Her memoir, Motherland — a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, and a BookSense76 pick — is a popular choice for book clubs. Her two other books, Is It Night or Day? and Like Finding My Twin, are used in middle and high school classrooms. In 2004, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE) named Chapman the “Illinois Author of the Year.” Twice, Oprah Winfrey shows have featured her books. Her latest work, Stumbling on History, was released in September 2016.

Her website is fernschumerchapman.com

Teacher Resources

Stumbling on History Teaching Guide

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Stumbling on History on Amazon

Stumbling on History on Goodreads

Stumbling on History on JLG

Stumbling on History Publisher Page

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The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek

The Children of Willesden Lane: A True Story of Hope and Survival During World War II by Mona Golabek. March 28, 2017. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 213 p. ISBN: 9780316554886.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.2.

Fourteen-year-old Lisa Jura was a musical prodigy who hoped to become a concert pianist. But when Hitler’s armies advanced on pre-war Vienna, Lisa’s parents were forced to make a difficult decision. Able to secure passage for only one of their three daughters through the Kindertransport, they chose to send gifted Lisa to London for safety.

As she yearned to be reunited with her family while she lived in a home for refugee children on Willesden Lane, Lisa’s music became a beacon of hope. A memoir of courage, survival, and the power of music to uplift the human spirit, this compelling tribute to one special young woman and the lives she touched will both educate and inspire young readers.

Featuring line art throughout and B&W photos.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Antisemitism, Xenophobic epithets

 

Book Trailer

 

About the Author

Ms. Golabek is the founder and president of the non-profit organization Hold On To Your Music. She is an author, recording artist, radio host and internationally acclaimed concert pianist. Ms. Golabek was taught by her mother, Lisa Jura, who, along with Lisa’s mother Malka, is the subject of Ms. Golabek’s book, The Children Of Willesden Lane. The work of Ms. Golabek and her sister, the late concert pianist Renee Golabek-Kaye, has been inspired by the words their grandmother uttered to her daughter at the Vienna train station as Lisa boarded the Kindertransport for safety in London at the outset of World War II. “Hold on to your music,” Malka told her, “It will be your best friend.”

A Grammy nominee, Ms. Golabek has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Career Grant and the People’s Award of the International Chopin Competition. She has been the subject of several PBS television documentaries, including More Than the Music, which won the grand prize in the 1985 Houston Film Festival, and Concerto for Mona, featuring Ms. Golabek and conductor Zubin Mehta. She has appeared in concert at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, Royal Festival Hall and with major orchestras and conductors worldwide.

Around the Web

The Children of Willesden Lane on Amazon

The Children of Willesden Lane on Goodreads

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The Children of Willesden Lane Publisher Page

Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein

Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Borstein. March 7, 2017. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 352 p. ISBN: 9780374305710.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.5; Lexile: 890.

In 1945, in a now-famous piece of archival footage, four-year-old Michael Bornstein was filmed by Soviet soldiers as he was carried out of Auschwitz in his grandmother’s arms. Survivors Club tells the unforgettable story of how a father’s courageous wit, a mother’s fierce love, and one perfectly timed illness saved Michael’s life, and how others in his family from Zarki, Poland, dodged death at the hands of the Nazis time and again with incredible deftness. Working from his own recollections as well as extensive interviews with relatives and survivors who knew the family, Michael relates his inspirational story with the help of his daughter, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat.

Shocking, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, this narrative nonfiction offers an indelible depiction of what happened to one Polish village in the wake of the German invasion in 1939.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Genocide, Harsh realities of the Holocaust, Antisemitism, Desecration of corpses, Sexual assault

 

Book Trailer

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 11))
Grades 5-8. In 1940, Michael Bornstein was born in Zarki, Poland—then a Nazi-occupied ghetto. In 1944, Michael and his family arrived at Auschwitz. Miraculously, in 1953, Michael celebrated his bar mitzvah in New York City. Here, with the help of his television news producer daughter, he recounts the spectacular story of his survival. The duo chronologically document the Germans’ ruthless occupation—and eventual liquidation—of Zarki; the Bornsteins’ compulsory stint at an ammunitions factory; their tragic trek to Auschwitz; and the aftermath of the war in a land ruptured by unconscionable brutality and bigotry. But this account is shaped less by events than it is people: Michael’s father, Israel, with his dangerous devotion to a crumbling community; Michael’s infinitely courageous Mamishu; his ever-resilient grandmother; and his stubbornly spirited slew of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Sprinkled with Yiddish and appended by an informative afterword, captioned photos, and brief glossary, the first-person narrative is a tenderly wrought tribute to family, to hope, and to the miracles both can bring. A powerful memoir for the middle-grade set.

Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2017)
Michael was only 4 when he miraculously survived the liberation of Auschwitz in January 1945.Filmed by Soviets liberating the camp, he saw his image years later, but he was not ready to tell his story until he saw his picture on a Holocaust-denial website. He enlisted his daughter, a TV journalist, to help him uncover further information and to co-author this book. In the preface, Holinstat writes: “we tried to keep the book as honest as possible. While the underlying events are entirely factual, there is fiction here.” The father-daughter pair found documents, diaries, and survivors’ essays to supplement the limited memories of a very young child, and they write about this process in the preface. The first-person narrative begins with the events of September 1939, even though Michael was not born until May 1940, which feels artificial. Horrific as the experience was, the Auschwitz chapters are just part of Michael’s journey. Living in an open “ghetto” in his hometown, moving to a forced-labor camp, then to the extermination camp where his older brother and father die, returning home where Jews are not welcomed, and then living in Munich as a displaced person for six years until he can emigrate to the United States with his mother, the chronicle of Bornstein’s first 11 years parallels the experiences of many other surviving victims of the Final Solution. In today’s world, it remains more important than ever to remember these survivors. (afterword, photos, characters, glossary) (Memoir. 11-14)

About the Author

Michael Bornstein survived for seven months inside Auschwitz, where the average lifespan of a child was just two weeks. Six years after his liberation, he immigrated to the United States. Michael graduated from Fordham University, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, and worked in pharmaceutical research and development for more than forty years. Now retired, Michael lives with his wife in New York City and speaks frequently to schools and other groups about his experiences in the Holocaust.

His website is www.mbornstein.com.

Teacher Resources

Survivors Club Teachers’ Guide

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Survivors Club on Amazon

Survivors Club on Goodreads

Survivors Club on JLG

Survivors Club Publisher Page

We Will Not Be Silent by Russell Freedman

We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman. May 3, 2016. Clarion Books, 112 p. ISBN: 9780544223790.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.7; Lexile: 630.

In his signature eloquent prose, backed up by thorough research, Russell Freedman tells the story of Austrian-born Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie. They belonged to Hitler Youth as young children, but began to doubt the Nazi regime. As older students, the Scholls and a few friends formed the White Rose, a campaign of active resistance to Hitler and the Nazis. Risking imprisonment or even execution, the White Rose members distributed leaflets urging Germans to defy the Nazi government. Their belief that freedom was worth dying for will inspire young readers to stand up for what they believe in. Archival photographs and prints, source notes, bibliography, index.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Anti-Semitism; Reference to sex; Euthanasia and genocide; Graphic photograph; Beheading

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2016)
In the heart of Germany, a student resistance movement called the White Rose took a courageous stand to denounce the Nazis. “They could have chosen to throw bombs,” but the young members of the White Rose chose to oppose Nazi Germany with printed words. The clandestine student activists, including Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst, wrote leaflets decrying Nazi atrocities, urging German citizens to resist the Nazi government, and denouncing the Nazi “dictatorship of evil.” Cranking out thousands of mimeographed leaflets at night in a secret cellar, the students proclaimed to Nazi leaders, “We are your bad conscience,” imperiling their lives. Among the wealth of good Holocaust literature available, Freedman’s volume stands out for its focus and concision, effectively placing the White Rose in its historical context, telling the story of Nazi Germany without losing the focus on the White Rose, and doing so in just over 100 pages. Archival photographs are effectively integrated into the text, and the typeface at times resembles the typewriter’s text on mimeographed leaflets, a nice design choice. The selected bibliography includes volumes for young readers and the superb German-language film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005). A thorough and accessible introduction to the Holocaust and the students who dared to take a stand against evil. (source notes, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Publishers Weekly (February 8, 2016)
Freedman (Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain) illuminates a small but powerful student movement that used a secretive leaflet campaign to oppose Hitler’s regime. Siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl and a few of their like-minded friends at the University of Munich began the White Rose resistance: “All of them were repelled by what was happening in Germany. They yearned to speak freely, to be entirely themselves again.” Nine chapters with titles such as “Rumblings of Doubt” and ” ‘We Are Your Bad Conscience’ ” (wording aimed at Hitler from the fourth leaflet) depict how the Scholls started out as Hitler Youth and gradually became disenchanted with the Nazis’ monolithic message of conformity and hate. Thoroughly researched, with numerous archival photos, this well-told story of the White Rose opposition unfolds chronologically and with building suspense. From the Scholls’ childhood in Nazi Germany to their eventual executions and the legacy of their daring acts of nonviolence, Freedman seamlessly places their story within the larger context of WWII. Source notes, a bibliography, and an index complete this inspiring historical narrative. Ages 10-12. (May)

About the Author

Russell Freedman is the award-winning author of 47 books, some of which have been translated into a diverse number of languages, including Japanese, Korean, German, Spanish, Flemish, Arabic and Bengali. But Freedman wasn’t always a children’s book writer.

He grew up in San Francisco and attended the University of California, Berkeley, and then worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press and as a publicity writer. In these jobs, Freedman did lots of research and provided important information to the public. Since becoming an author, he has done the same thing — but now he gets to focus on topics that he is personally interested in and wants to learn more about.

His nonfiction books range in subject from the lives and behaviors of animals to people in history whose impact is still felt today. Freeedman’s work has earned him several awards, including a Newbery Medal in 1994 for Lincoln: a Photobiography, a Newbery Honor each for Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery in 1994 and The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane in 1992, and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.

Russell Freedman now lives in New York City.

Teacher Resources

White Rose Student Movement Materials and Activities

White Rose Lesson Plan

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We Will Not Be Silent on Amazon

We Will Not Be Silent on Goodreads

We Will Not Be Silent on JLG

We Will Not Be Silent Publisher Page

Irena’s Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Irena’s Children: Young Readers Edition by Tilar J. Mazzeo; adapted by Mary Cronk Farrell. September 27, 2016. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 272 p. ISBN: 9781481449915.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.6.

From New York Times bestselling author Tilar Mazzeo comes the extraordinary and long forgotten story of Irena Sendler—the “female Oskar Schindler”—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II—now adapted for a younger audience.

Irena Sendler was a young Polish woman living in Warsaw during World War II with an incredible story of survival and selflessness. And she’s been long forgotten by history.

Until now.

This young readers edition of Irena’s Children tells Irena’s unbelievable story set during one of the worst times in modern history. With guts of steel and unfaltering bravery, Irena smuggled thousands of children out of the walled Jewish ghetto in toolboxes and coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through the dank sewers and into secret passages that led to abandoned buildings, where she convinced her friends and underground resistance network to hide them.

In this heroic tale of survival and resilience in the face of impossible odds, Tilar Mazzeo and adapter Mary Cronk Farrell share the true story of this bold and brave woman, overlooked by history, who risked her life to save innocent children from the horrors of the Holocaust.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war; Genocide; Anti-Semitism; Violent images and imagery; The Holocaust; Sexual assault; Xenophobia

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 2))
Grades 5-8. Farrell adapts Mazzeo’s adult book for young readers, recounting the inspiring true story of Polish social worker Irena Sendler, who risked her life to save 2,500 Jewish children in the Warsaw ghetto from the Nazis during WWII. Between 1939 through 1945, ghetto inhabitants increasingly died of disease and starvation and were deported to extermination camps. In the midst of these horrific living conditions, Sendler and a small group of mostly female Jewish friends falsified Jewish children’s paperwork, giving them Catholic identities, and ingeniously smuggled them out of the ghetto under overcoats, in coffins and toolboxes, and through underground sewers and tunnels. Known as “the female Oskar Schindler,” Sendler was arrested and interrogated by the Nazis but never broke under torture. She was short in stature but had immense courage and didn’t consider herself a hero: “What I did was not an extraordinary thing.” The children Sendler saved and the readers of this moving biography would undoubtedly disagree.

Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2016)
In Jewish belief, there are righteous people in every generation who can repair a tear in the universe. Irena Sendler was truly one of them.Born into a comfortable Polish Catholic family, Irena had many Jewish friends growing up, and they shared idealistic beliefs. When the Germans invaded Poland and set off World War II, she was determined to assist the Jewish population in any way possible, especially those in the walled-off Warsaw ghetto. Carrying necessary papers she was able to enter and leave the ghetto. She and like-minded Poles rescued as many as 2,500 Jewish children, carefully recording names and keeping them in a jar (never found). She kept up her mission even as conditions within the walls became worse, as starvation, disease, the “murderous brutality” of the German occupying forces, and deportations to extermination camps grew in intensity. Even arrest, torture, and a miraculous release from certain death did not stop her. Farrell’s adaptation of Mazzeo’s adult title (2016) clearly presents her life and the ever present reality of death in a sobering, heartbreaking narrative. Readers will understand how Sendler came to be honored by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.  (Biography. 12-18)

About the Author

Tilar J. Mazzeo is a cultural historian, biographer, and passionate student of wine and food culture. She divides her time among the California wine country, New York City, and Maine, where she is a professor of English at Colby College.

Her website is www.tilar-mazzeo-author.com.
I’m an award-winning author of Children’s/YA books and former journalist with a passion for stories about people facing great adversity with courage. Writing such stories has shown me that in our darkest moments we have the opportunity to discover our true identity and follow an inner compass toward the greater good.

Both my fiction and non-fiction titles feature little-known true stories of history based on thorough research. Most include an author’s note, bibliography and further resources, but they are not dry, scholarly tomes! Confronting grief, adversity and failure in my own life, enables me to write stories with an authentic emotional core.

My books have been named Notable Social Studies Book for Young People, SPUR Award for Best Juvenile Fiction about the American West, Bank Street College List of Best Children’s Books, and NY Public Library Best Books for Teens. My journalistic work has received numerous awards for excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists and two Emmy nominations.

Her website is www.marycronkfarrell.net.

Teacher Resources

Irena’s Children Reading Group Guide

Irena Sendler and the Warsaw Ghetto Lesson Plan

The Warsaw Ghetto Lesson Plan

Around the Web

Irena’s Children on Amazon

Irena’s Children on JLG

Irena’s Children on Goodreads

 

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin. November 1, 2016. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 496 p. ISBN: 9780316405157.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 750.

There would be blood.
Blood for blood.
Blood to pay.
An entire world of it.

For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: The world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But in the midst of the chaos, Yael’s past and future collide when she comes face-to-face with a ghost from her past, and a spark with a fellow rider begins to grow into something more. Dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all–how far can you go for the ones you love?

Sequel to: Wolf to Wolf

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Smoking; The Holocaust

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Yael’s job was supposed to be straightforward: join the Axis Tour motorcycle race by pretending to be someone else, win, and kill Adolf Hitler. While the world thinks she succeeded, the Führer still lives, having sent his own skin-shifting doppelgänger to the victory ball. That trickery alone is enough to make Yael furious and frustrated, but adding to the pile is the mess she’s made of her own life and emotions. Yael, a skin-shifter, has been impersonating racer Adele Wolfe. Now on the run from the SS, she is caught by this year’s winner, Luka Lowe, who’s still in love with the girl Yael has been pretending to be. As the Resistance rages on, trying to make Operative Valkyrie the new regime, Adele’s brother Felix is kept captive in Japan, held for information. These three stories intertwine and diverge in a truly inventive way, making this alternate history novel feel distinctly real. Each primary character—Yael, Luka, and Felix—is individual and distinct, giving the reader a sense of adventure viewed through different eyes. Graudin’s writing is beautiful, her story exciting and consuming.

Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2016)
Graudin returns to her what-if-Hitler-won alternate 1956, concluding the story begun in Wolf by Wolf (2015). After Yael’s failed assassination of Hitler (actually a skinshifter wearing his guise), the resistance seems doomed. Fortunately, opponent Luka follows when she flees; less fortunately, Felix, twin brother of the woman Yael has been impersonating, saw Yael’s tattoos (which do not change when she shifts appearance, although everything else, including mass, does) and conveys that clue to the SS-Standartenführer. All three are imprisoned, Felix as a double agent, then escape and fall in with the Soviets. The road trip back to Germania to again attack Hitler makes up the heart of the story, culminating in a showdown and war compressed into a few pages. As in the first book, Graudin’s unconventional syntactical choices (“the wolf-fierce…of her iron voice”; “blitzkrieg” as a verb) and frequently overworked metaphors (“Gossamer feelings…as sticky, fragile, complex, and beautiful as a spider’s web silvered in morning dew”) combine with a tendency to tell rather than show emotions, resulting in a strangely flat affect. Most problematic is the treatment of religion: Yael’s rediscovery of her Judaism is symbolized by eating challah, and the pivotal romance between a Jewish camp survivor and a Nazi poster boy will disturb some readers, no matter how conflicted and ignorant Luka may have been. Strictly for fans. (Historical fiction/fantasy. 12-16)

About the Author

Ryan Graudin was born in Charleston, South Carolina, with a severe case of wanderlust. When she’s not traveling, she’s busy writing and spending time with her husband and wolf dog. She is the author of Invictus, the Wolf By Wolf duology, The Walled City, and the All That Glows Series.

Her website is www.ryangraudin.com

Teacher Resources

Blood for Blood Book Club Guide

Around the Web

Blood for Blood on Amazon

Blood for Blood on JLG

Blood for Blood on Goodreads