Tag Archive | Holocaust

Z is for Zlatka, making Paper Hearts secretly in Auschwitz (book review) by Meg Wiviott

book cover of Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comForbidden in Auschwitz:
humanity, relationships, possessions,
and yet…

Her life forfeit if discovered, Zlatka rises above despair in the death camp by celebrating another year of friend Fania’s life with a paper origami heart, crafted in secret.

See the actual paper heart today in the Montreal Holocaust Museum – how fragile things like paper and hope can survive such hate…

As National Poetry Month closes, this novel in verse based on a true story of friendships opens our hearts.
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Book info: Paper Hearts / Meg Wiviott. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Pulled from their Jewish families in different Polish hometowns to this terrible place, this death camp, young women Zlatka and Fania find hidden ways to bolster their spirits as they try to stay alive.

The guards turn girl against girl, and girls try anything to get another ration of moldy bread. Forced to work as slaves in a German metal factory making bomb casings instead of bowls, Zlatka and Fania and a few others do their best to be human to one another.

Watching the seasons pass, praying to Adonai in whispers no one can hear. As winter comes near, Zlatka decides to make a card for Fania, because a birthday – or any day – is a gift too precious to ignore.

Can the young women barter enough bread to get a piece of paper or pencil stub?
Can they keep this secret from Fania and the guards?
Will they live or die or keep existing in between?

Zlatka and Fania each tell their story through chapters of poems, enduring and persevering because friendship can make its own family in the midst of horror and despair. Based on actual people and events at Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp during World War II, this novel in verse celebrates the best and the worst of humanity.

Girl in the Blue Coat, by Monica Hesse (book review) – find her before the Nazis do?

book cover of Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse, published by Little Brown Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.comLast of her family, gone from a locked room,
Nazis seeking her and so many others…
Closed eyes? Despair? Resistance!

Not the same thing at all, Hanneke’s very quiet black-market activity versus being asked to find a Jewish girl in Amsterdam before the German invaders do!

This World War II story invokes the tenacity of hope even as neighbors collaborate with the enemy and long-time friendships falter.

Last year, I walked the Amsterdam streets that Hanneke slipped through like a shadow and that Anne Frank longed to freely walk again…
**kmm

Book info:  Girl in the Blue Coat / Monica Hesse.  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [Q &A with author] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Struggling to support her parents during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, Hanneke quietly acquires rationed goods for clients, but the teen is startled when she’s asked to find a missing Jewish girl amid constant deportations and disappearances.

How can she locate Mirjam without alerting the authorities?
What caused the young woman to leave the safe house, anyway?
Oh, why did Hanneke encourage her boyfriend Bas to join the Dutch Navy, just before it was crushed by the Nazi invasion?

Cautiously introduced to the student resistance by Bas’ brother Ollie, Hanneke now has even more reason to steer clear of the Germans in her beloved city and the local sympathizers who will betray neighbors to stay in the Nazis’ good graces. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Prince Without a Kingdom, by Timothee de Fombelle (book review) – rooftops, espionage, war, love, danger

book cover of A Prince Without Kingdom by Timothee de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, published by Candlewick Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com A zeppelin, skyscrapers, a quest,
war looming, young people fleeing,
across countries, toward memories…

Through the early years of World War II, intrepid teens try to outwit ingenious villains in a game of chase through the US and Europe with deadly consequences.

Yes, it’s Book 2 of a duology. No, you don’t have to read Vango: Between Earth and Sky to get up to speed on the complex and fascinating storylines (I had only this one and easily got up to speed on who was who, etc.). But if you can get Book 1, do it, just so you can doubly glory in the wordplay, round-the-world plots, and stunning translations of the adventurous tale of Vango, Cat, the invisible monastery, Ethel, and Zefiro.

Who would you follow across oceans?
**kmm

Book info: A Prince Without a Kingdom (Vango, book 2) / Timothee de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone. Candlewick Press, 2015. [author bio] [translator interview] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Chased from his childhood refuge, orphaned teen Vango uses disguise and stealth to track down the man trying to kill him, while Ethel formulates plans to assist him as World War II erupts.

Intricate webs of love, hatred, family, loss, and intrigue flow between Vango and Ethel, a nanny in Russia and a doctor in Italy, an out-of-tune piano and the Black Sea in 1913 and a prize-fighter impersonating a prince, as oceans are crossed by airships, identities are cross-wired, and missed connections can mean life, death, or dessert…

The Cat connects clues and Resistance fighters as she traverses the rooftops of Occupied Paris – too many enemies?
How can the abbot of the Invisible Monastery be aboard the Hindenburg zeppelin?
Is Edith’s brother safe as an Allied aviator?

Second in the Vango duology, A Prince Without a Kingdom can easily be read alone as a cross-continent, multi-stranded adventure of love and loyalty during wartime, stunningly translated from the French original.

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Numbers, by David A. Poulsen (book review) – friendly teacher, hostile beliefs

book cover of Numbers by David A. Poulsen published by Dundurn |BooksYALove.com review Popularity or individuality,
Leader or follower,
History is written by the victors.

Mr. R knows every kid at school by name, crafts the most interesting lessons ever, and wants to rewrite a particular part of history in their minds. Eventually, Andy questions his favorite teacher’s views, but is it too late?

Ask for this re-released Canadian title at your local library or favorite independent bookstore – it’s worth the wait if they need to order it, trust me!

When it comes to teachers, where’s the line between sharing beliefs and recruiting to a cause?
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Book info:  Numbers / David A. Poulsen. Dundurn, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Wondering if he’ll ever fit in at his Canadian high school, Andy basks in the attention of his history teacher, but must decide how far to follow as Mr. R strays far from the textbook during their Holocaust project.

Andy started off on the wrong foot the first day of freshman year, isn’t doing well at this dating thing, and is just tolerated by The Six misfits who aren’t exactly fans of being in school.

As year 10 students, they’re finally in Mr. R’s modern history class where every lesson is interesting. But Mr. Retzlaf’s ideas about the Holocaust don’t agree with what’s usually taught, and only Patti stands up to him.

How can someone as cool as Mr. R be wrong?
Why aren’t problems with girls and his alcoholic uncle and history as simple to fix as old cars?
Can ex-girlfriend Diana really hate him enough to carry out the ultimate revenge?

As some of The Six plan a terrible crime to gain Mr. R’s approval, Andy must decide what he believes and what to do about it. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Winter Guest, by Pam Jenoff (book review) – war, love, memory, betrayal

book cover of The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff published by Harlequin MiraNazis getting nearer,
food getting scarcer,
hope is a fool’s game – until Helena finds Sam.

The threat of winter overtaking the family farm in 1940 seems more worrisome than the sudden disappearance of neighbors, as twins Helena and Ruth care for their younger brother and sisters after Mama is hospitalized far away and Nazi forces edge ever-closer to their tiny Polish village.

And then an American airman falls into Helena’s life…

Read an excerpt free here, then find this story of love, hope, lies, and secrets to get the rest of Sam and Helena’s story.

**kmm

Book info: The Winter Guest / Pam Jenoff. Harlequin Mira, 2014  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After losing their parents during wartime, Helena and twin sister Ruth hold their family together. When Helena risks their safety to keep a downed Allied aviator out of the Nazis’ hands, another rash act may doom them all.

On their small Polish farm, strong Helena and gentle Ruth must keep their younger siblings warm and fed after Papa’s death and Mama’s hospitalization in the city. The young women also must keep the village officials from realizing that Mama may never come home.Winter Guest, by Pam Jenoff (book review) – war, love, memory, betrayal

Hiding near the snowy trail on one long trek to see Mama in Krakow, Helena overhears German soldiers -an Allied plane crashed nearby, and one of the airmen has survived! She finds Sam in a remote abandoned chapel and decides to help him. As his leg heals and more secrets unfold, they plan her family’s escape.

But how to get food to the American when there’s little enough at home?
Will Mama ever rouse from her grief and depression in the Jewish hospital?
Can Ruth and Helena stay clear of the lecherous town constable and the Nazi soldiers now in their village?

Bracketed by episodes of her life as an old woman now, Helena’s compelling memories of the Jewish airman whom she came to love and the terrors which invaded their village paint a vivid picture of World War II mysteries and ghosts, including Ruth’s act of treachery.

Stories from the Holocaust in final AudioSYNC books of summer 2014

The last week of summer 2014 to download free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

As long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device, you can listen to either or both of these complete audiobooks, if you download them by Wednesday, August 13, 2014.

CD cover of Living a Life That Matters: From Nazi Nightmare to American Dream By: Ben Lesser Read by:  Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser Published by: Remembrance PublishingLiving a Life That Matters: from Nazi Nightmare to American Dream  (download here)
By: Ben Lesser
Read by:  Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser
Published by: Remembrance Publishing

A Holocaust survivor urges us to stand up for our neighbors, not stand idly by and allow violence to injure anyone.
The Shawl CD cover of The Shawl By Cynthia Ozick Read by  Yelena Shmulenson Published by HighBridge Audio
By Cynthia Ozick
Read by  Yelena Shmulenson
Published by HighBridge Audio

In this award-winning short story, an anguished mother in a Nazi concentration camp searches for the shawl which could bring her just-murdered child back to life.
Many thanks to the publishers who allowed free downloads of their noteworthy audiobooks this summer through AudioSYNC.

Thirteen weeks, 26 great audiobooks – which was your favorite title?
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Briar Rose (fiction)

Shh… Sneak-in Saturday has a double meaning today, as we consider an adult book that snuck itself into teens’ hearts and then snuck onto numerous award lists before I could blog about it.

Originally written as a novel for adults, Briar Rose won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in 1993, but gathered such a following among older teen readers that it was re-released as a Tor Teen paperback in 2002.

Memories of less-often told stories of the Holocaust spill into the present day as Becca tries to carry out her grandmother’s last wishes on a trek to Poland that becomes a heart-wrenching journey into the hellish days of World War II.

A strong, faithful book that reminds us that history’s headlines are not the only important stories.
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Book info: Briar Rose / Jane Yolen. Macmillan/Tor Teen, 2002. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Becca always loved her grandmother’s story about Briar Rose, no matter how many times Gemma told it to her and her sisters. The princess, the black-booted witch’s curse, the mist that covered the kingdom and made everyone sleep for a hundred years… not the same Sleeping Beauty story that you heard or read in books.

Years later, grown-up Rebecca promises her elderly grandmother that she will find out the rest of the story. Upon Gemma’s death, she inherits a small box of photos and papers – clues to the past and the rest of the Briar Rose story that journalist Rebecca must uncover.

From research to refugee camp, Becca traces Gemma’s mysterious arrival in the United States from Europe in the closing days of World War II. The path leads back to a Nazi extermination camp in Poland, not a concentration camp, but a place so deadly that only 4 men ever escaped… and no women ever left it alive.

Why does Gemma’s paperwork say that she came from that place of death? Is she the princess of Briar Rose? How can Becca find her family’s roots when no one in Chelmno will talk about the camp?

A powerful retelling of Sleeping Beauty that explores the brutal depths of the Holocaust. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Annexed (fiction)

Anne Frank and the Annex – so many have read her story through her diary. Radio messages from the Dutch officials exiled in London during World War II reminded those who remained in the Netherlands that their diaries and memoirs would be testaments to the Nazis’ atrocities. Anne knew this as she wrote, always striving to be “a writer” and telling the tales of hope and deprivation and worry that circled and recircled in the Annex.

So hearing Peter’s voice brings more to the story, like looking at a familiar statue from another angle gives us a different perspective. Not everyone has been pleased with this alternate view of the Annex, but Dogar’s comments on the controversy reveal that she wrote Annexed because she and her daughter wondered what happened after the Diary ended, not to rewrite Anne’s history.

A gripping story well worth reading (with hankie in hand).
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Book info: Annexed / Sharon Dogar. Houghton Mifflin, 2010. [author interview] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Peter walks slowly, savoring the sun and wind before he enters the Annex. Who knows how long the Franks and his family will stay there, Jews escaping the Nazis in Holland by going into hiding?

Yes, those Franks. This is Peter’s side of the struggle for survival chronicled in The Diary of Anne Frank, as the young man gives up his first romance, his training, his future, just trying to stay alive day by day. Oh, the story was whispered in Amsterdam that both families had fled, far from the ominous army trucks which loaded up in Jewish neighborhoods and returned to the city – empty.

Peter longs for his woodworking tools, not the books that Anne and Margot seem to live in. How appropriate that a bookcase covers the hidden door into the Annex! How difficult it must have been for others to bring food to those in the Annex when there was little to find.

As time passes, books become more appealing to Peter… as does Anne, who is no longer the child who entered the Annex. Anne – who writes to tell the truth, who writes as a testimony against the cruelty of the Nazis.

We know that this saga does not end well. Peter’s tale continues on the horrific train journey out of the city, to the brutalities of the prison camp called Auschwitz. Annexed is a powerful story for mature readers, no less real because it uses the voice of fiction. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.