Set in Paris, 1942, The Night War by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells the story of twelve-year-old Miriam Erika Schrieber (Miri). In the face of danger, Miri’s parents have always told her “Verne heldishe (be brave)” and “We don’t choose how we feel, but we choose how we act. Choose courage” (16).   These words become Miri’s mantra when she is forced to flee the Pletzl, a Jewish neighborhood in Paris during a roundup of Jewish people. In a moment, with two-year-old Nora Rosenbaum in her arms, thrust there by a mother wanting to save her child from the Nazis, Miriam becomes Marie when a CatholicRead More →

Any reader who enjoys genre bending and a good mystery will likely appreciate Artifice by Sharon Cameron. Set in Amsterdam in 1943-1946, the novel is most clearly a historical fiction piece about the Holocaust, but it’s not “just another Holocaust story.” In this account, Cameron focuses on the efforts of Resistance workers who set out to save the children. An estimated 600 Jewish toddlers and babies were saved from death in the concentration camps. It is also a story about art. Isa De Smit lives in a home that houses Gallery De Smit, a place that is “full of art and artists. Lessons in herRead More →

Remember My Story by Claire Sarnowski with Sarah Durand recounts the memories of the author who befriends Alter Wiener, a Holocaust survivor, when she is only nine years old. The main purpose of the book is to share the truth that remembering the history of atrocities like the Jewish genocide can help prevent intolerance, violence, and hate. After hearing Alter Wiener’s presentation about his surviving the concentration camps, Claire is inspired by his attitude to “become better, not bitter.” Despite their huge age gap—Alter is 87—the two become fast friends, and together they spread the message that we can’t remove pain by hiding the truthRead More →

Although The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield is “another Holocaust book,” this nonfiction account retold for young readers reminds us all how vitally important it is to remember what happened “in those terrible years” (301). So as to brand their minds and inspire young readers to do whatever they can to ensure that nothing like the Holocaust ever occurs again, Dronfield captures the story of the Kleinmann family with a focus on Fritz, who is fourteen years old when the novel opens, and on Kurt, who is eight. By personalizing the tale so that readers can form connections, Dronfield buildsRead More →

Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis by Susan Hood with Greg Dawson is a novel about the Holocaust told in verse and organized into seven parts. The story rings with Zhanna’s love for her Ukrainian homeland, sorrow for her lost family, and fury for both Stalin and the Nazis. The story opens with the insatiable curiosity of Zhanna Arshanskaya, a born explorer. Until 1935, Zhanna and her sister, Frina, live a candy-coated life in Berdyansk, Ukraine, nestled near the Sea of Azov. When Stalin begins to devour their country and imposes “death by hunger,” the family is forced to seek refuge inRead More →

In his newest book, A Rebel in Auschwitz, Jack Fairweather tells the true story of a resistance hero who fought the Nazis from inside the tortuous prison camp.  The book opens with an introduction to Witold Pilecki, a young Polish underground operative. Once readers have a sense of this man’s values, we read about Hitler’s goal to obliterate the Polish people as well as their nation—“to drown the people in blood” (12). Feeling it is imperative to face down evil, Witold accepts a mission to infiltrate Auschwitz so that he can pass on any intelligence to the resistance group and rally the power of theRead More →

Not just another Holocaust survivor’s story, Bluebird by Sharon Cameron is both fascinating and horrifying.  It prompts readers to consider along with Cameron’s protagonist: “Is this the world? Where nothing is fair? Where it is impossible not to cry? Where wars are not glorious or noble, just dirty and blood-soaked” (94)? It also prompts us to ask: Is it always better to know the past and the things that have happened? Cameron’s protagonist decides, “If you don’t know, then you can’t understand what justice is” (105). After experiencing the atrocities in Berlin during Hitler’s reign, Inge von Emmerich concludes that she has survived for aRead More →

Deborah Hopkinson’s nonfiction book We Must Not Forget joins other powerful stories of survival and resistance during the era when an act of defiance carried a risk and a price. Hopkinson tells the stories of lesser known Jewish children and teens whose courage and strength enabled them to survive the Holocaust. To give the dead a voice and to call the world to action, Hopkinson provides key dates, people’s harrowing stories, and photographs to illustrate their lives. Most chapters also end with grey shadow boxes that share Look, Listen, Remember resources and information for further exploration. Furthermore, like most nonfiction books, We Must Not ForgetRead More →

Told in 33 chapters by seven voices, Linked by Gordon Korman shares the story of a swastika that sets in motion a series of unintended consequences.  Because the administration at Chokecherry Middle School believes that information is the best antidote to the poison of prejudice, the 600 students who attend are subjected to tolerance education. Still, the swastikas continue to show up. What initially seemed to be a sick joke turns into something more sinister. The persistence dredges up 40-year-old memories of the Ku Klux Klan in Shadbush County and the Night of a Thousand Flames.  Soon, the quiet town of Chokecherry, Colorado, is madeRead More →