The following 11 titles recount true stories of Jewish citizens trapped under Hitler’s power. Each book is a powerful story of survival, strength and hope.
ALIAS ANNA by Susan Hood with Greg Dawson (Free verse)
Zhanna (alias Anna) , a young Jewish girl, living in the Ukraine when it was invaded by Germans during World War II is forced to l her entire family when the Nazis force them out of their home. Zhanna has strong musical talent and a promising future as a pianist. When her father bribes a guard, Zhanna is fortunate to take and hide a treasured sheet of Chopin music. This historical fiction title, told in verse, tells the story (one of hundreds) of Jewish children who were forced to give up their names and hide their identities. The author, along with Zhanna’s son, Greg Dawson recount the true, moving story of how two piano prodigies, outplayed their pursuers while hiding in plain sight. Like The Children of Willsesden Lane and Hiding Edith this is a remarkable story of resilience and perseverance set during the Holocaust.
“I don’t care what you do, just live.” (Zhanna’s father)
THE CHILDREN OF WILLESDEN LANE: A True Story of Hope and Survival During World War II by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen adapted by Emil Sher (Historical Fiction)
This story of courage and hope recounting the experiences of teenager Lisa Jura’s life in England during WWIi. Lisa was chosen for the Kindertransport, the rescue effort to relocate Jewish children to great Britain. Separated from her family and left unaware of their fates, Lisa finds company in the refugee home on Willesden Lane. A musical prodigy, Lisa Jura is devoted to practicing piano, receiving a scholarship to the Royal Academy and giving concerts. It is music that gives her hope and helps her to keep her promise to her mother ‘to hold on to her music.” Her daughter Mona Golabek a celebrated concert pianist, along with journalist Mona Golabek recounts Lisa Juras’s experiences. This version is a Young Readers Edition adapted by Emily Sher. The Hold On To Your Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization which has created a series of Willesden Reads across North American. Recently, copies of this historical fiction have been donated to middle age readers throughout the GTA to read this inspirational of a courageous Jewish refugee survivor. www.holdontoyourmusic.org
HIDING EDITH by Kathy Kacer
Kathy Kacer tells the story of a young girl Edith Schwalb who was caught up in the Nazi invasions of World War II. Separated from her parents and her family, Edith, forced to conceal her identity and faith, is always hiding. Even at the risk of losing their own lives, who can help? A French Jewish couple, Shatta and Bouti Simon, offer Edith a place of hiding to join other young people in their secret school for fugitive Jewish children. Oncle Albert and Tante Marie provide shelter and offer bounty even with the restrictions of ration cards. Even the residents of Moissac, France conspire to hide hundreds of Jewish children. This is an important beautifully written story helping young readers understand what it meant for young people to survive during the Holocaust when armies are trying to hunt them down. It is one story of hundreds of parents who were forced to find someone to hide their children and to recognize that there wer many Christian families who were brave enough to provide salvation and hope.
THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ: the Graphic novel, based on the book by Antonio Iturbe (ages 12+)
The Librarian of Auschwitz is a bestselling novel by Spanish author, Antonio Iturbe, and for those who admired this book, a new graphic novel verson has been created. Iturbe tells the y fourteen-year0old Dita who was, along with her mother and father imprisoned in Auschwitz. For Dita, the horrors of the concentration camp were counterbalanced when she was asked to become the librarian of Auschwitz and take charge keep safe, the 8 books that were smuggled past the guards. The books along with real stories told by prisoners educated the children in the camp, even though they discovery of the books in Block 31, the children’s camp would prove to be dangerous, perhaps resulting in execution. Iturbe’s story is based on the true story of Dita Kraus, a Holocaust survivor. This graphic novel adaption synthesized the 400 pages of the original novel by presenting historical facts and powerful narratives. The strong images illustrated by Loreto Aroca along with the narrative captions and dialogue match the power of the original novel in presenting another haunting historical account of the Holocaust.
THE MISSING by Michael Rosen (Ages 11+)
British author Michael Rosen had heard stories about his great uncles who were there before the war, but not after. Rosen embarks on research to discover the true story of his family in World War II and takes readers on an investigative journey to find about the disappearance of people lost during the holocaust.
MORDECHAI ANIELEWICZ: NO TO DESPAIR by Rachael Hausfater (Ages 12+)
(translated by Alison L. Strayer)
Set in Poland during the Holocaust, No to Despair is a powerful account of the final days of the life of Mordechai Anielwicz, the young leader of the Jewish Fighting Organization that led to the insurrection agains the Nazi control. Anielewicz was a revolutionary leader with resolve and immense strength of resistance with obligations to defend each other, no matter the costs. “The opposite of despair is not hope, it’s struggle.” This title is part of the “They Said No” historical fiction series from Seven Stories Press for young readers about protestors, activists and revolutionaries (e.g., Harvey Milk, Primo Levi, George Sand, Victor Hugo).
SHANGHAI EXPRESS by Kathy Kacer
When Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party made life unbearable for Jewish people, many desperately sought refuge. Lily Toufar and her mother and father was one family that travelled to Shanghai China to escape the horrors of war. Unfortunately, all was not safe for the more thatwenty thousand Jewish refugees who moved to Shanghai. The area was controlled by Japan, whose leaders supported Hitler. The local government ordered Jewish refugees to move into a poor area known as Hongkew where conditions were unbearable. Living spaces were crowded, food was scarce, and freedom was limited. For the Jewish people, it seemed that they were in as much danger in China as they were in Europe. Kathy Kacer tells Lily’s story from leaving her home in Vienna in 1938 to liberation in 1945, a life filled with danger, hanging on to hope. Shanghai Express is a Holocaust Remembrance Book for Young Readers from Second Story Press.
THE UNDERGROUND REPORTERS by Kathy Kacer
This story takes place in Budejovice, a quiet village in Czechoslovakia, laws and rules were introduced to restrict the freedom of Jewish people during the dark days of World War II. As a form of resistance, some brave young people decided to create a newspaper, a magazine that would prove to themselves and their community that they were still creative, energetic, and adventurous. The magazine, Klepy (which means Gossip), was born on August 30, 1940, and over the following two years, twenty-two issues were created and circulated, thus giving the Jewish citizens a sense of connection and hope. John Freund was one of the young “reporters” who contributed to the magazine. In April 1942, John and the other one thousand Jews of Budejovice were deported to the Terezin ghetto. Most of these deportees were immediately sent on to Auschwitz and to their deaths. . Remarkably, copies of Klepy also survived. Author, Kathy Kacer, had the opportunity to visit John Freund and Irena Stadler who survived the war and have them share their memories under Nazi power and with the publication of Klepy
>>>>>>>> PICTURE BOOKS <<<<<<<<<<
THE BRAVE PRINCESS AND ME by Kathy Kacer illus. by Juliana Kolesova
The story is set during the Second World War in Athens where Princess Alice, who was born deaf, lived. With the arrival of the Nazis in Greece, Jewish people were endangered. Tilda Cohen and her mother Rachel were desperately seeking refuge and arrived on Princess Alice’s doorstep begging her to hide them. The brave princess agreed to conceal the two Jews in her home but they were forced to go into hiding and never leave the house. When the Gestapo police came to the Princess’s house to search for hidden Jews, Princess Alice pretended that she didn’t understand them. The princess stood her ground and fooled the police who gave up and left.
THE MAGICIAN OF AUSCHWITZ by Kathy Kacer; illus. by Gillian Newland
The setting is in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Young Werner Reich has been separated from his family and faces terrible circumstances from day to day. The young boy shares his bunk with a quiet man named Herr Levin who’s gentle manner seems out of place in the dire setting. The older man was once famous for performing remarkable tricks as Nivelli the Magician in the great theatres of Berlin. At the Family Camp of Auschwitz, the prison guards learn of Nivelli’s talents and enter the barracks ordering Herr Levin to do his magic. The story of The Magician of Auschwitz centred on two prisoners who find friendship, hope, kindness and magic during frightening times. It is also the story of two Holocaust survivors and how perform magic helped each of them to thrive and live a happier life. An afterward to the book provides readers with information and photographs about how the story of these two heroes evolved and survived appalling conditions.
THE PROMISE by Pnina Bat Zvi and Margie Wolfe; illus.. Isabelle Cardinal
This picture book tells the story, based on true events, of two sisters, Rachel and Toby, who were taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp The narrative and strong visual images depict the constant danger the girls faced, especially when they were forced to separate. Three gold coins and a promise they had given to their parents keep the two sisters hopeful in their striving to survive.
THE PRISONER AND THE WRITER by Heather Camlot; illus. Sophie Casson (YA )
This is a stirring picture book of historical fiction. In 1895, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer was falsely accused of being a traitor to France by passing military secrets to Germany. Dreyfus as exiled to a prison on Devil’s Island. (“My only crime was to have been born a Jew.” Alfred Dreyfus). In 1898 writer Emile Zola’s powerful political letter was published declaring Dreyfus’s innocence and accusing those who were to really to blame. This picture book provides readers with the significance of The Dreyfus Affair in French and world politics. It is a story of antisemitism reminding readers about truth, justice and equality and the need to stand up and speak out against any prejudice they are faced with. Author Heather Camlot has done. brilliant job through lyrical, poetic text and alternate narratives to shine a light on this historical incident and to encourage readers to learn more about two heroic characters and see the relevance of their story in today’s world. Sophie’s Casson’s lightly coloured illustrations strongly support the verbal text.
NOTE: I am creating this posting on 23.01.23, 125 years since Zola’s 4000 word open letter to the president of France was published January 13,
“The truth is on the march and nothing will stop it.. When we bury the truth underground, it builds up, it takes on such an explosive force, that the day it bursts, it blows up everything with it.” (From “J’Accuse)
TRUE STORIES OF HIDING FROM THE NAZIS
Alias Anna: A true story of outwitting the Nazis by Susan Hood with Greg Dawson (free verse memoir)
Catherine’s War by Julia Billet; illus. Claire Fauvel
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank (also: All About Anne by Menno Metselaar and Piet Van Ledden / Anne Frank House)
Hidden: A child’s story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier; illus. Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo (graphic story)
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Survivors of the Holocaust: True stories of six extraordinary children by Kath Shackleton (ed.); illus. Zane Whittingham (graphic story)
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
TRUE STORIES OF HIDING FROM THE NAZIS: Picture Books
The Boy Who Jumped Off the Train by Malka Adler
The Brave Princess and Me by Kathy Kacer; illus. Juliana Kolesova
Hiding from the Nazis by David A. Adler; illus. Karen Ritz
Hold on To Your Music: The inspiring true story of the children’ of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen (adapted by Emil Sher); illus. Sonia Possentini
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren; illus. Fabio Santamauro