If you want children junior grade level and older to have a clear picture in their minds of what it was like to be a Jewish child during WWII, this is the book that will do it for you. True stories from real survivors, collected by Kathy Kacer and Sharon E. McKay and retold here, highlight the fears, courage, determination, and sometimes luck that enabled these children to survive when so many millions did not. Each story is different — the ages, the family unit, the circumstances, the cities and the countries — yet each is one of success. Whether it is a mother, father, and daughter being protected in a small village in Italy, a baby escaping in his mother’s arms, two brothers, not even teen-agers yet, scrounging in the forest and living in caves, or an 18-year-old woman running missions for the AJS (the Armée Juifs Secret — Underground Jewish Army), all needed strength and resourcefulness to blend in, seek aid, or bluff their way past soldiers, collaborators, and police.
There are 11 such stories to make your heart pump with adrenaline as the heroes, and they were heroes, faced dangers we can only imagine, stories that represent survivors who made their way eventually to Canada to start new lives. Each begins with a picture of the child and his/her family, and each has a postscript to tell what became of them in the new world. The last two are told through letters and diary entries, and so are told in their own voices. There is a map after the introduction which shows the locations mentioned in the stories, and a glossary at the end. The stories are well-told, straightforward and without embellishment. Why would they need to embellish, when the truth is a stark reality that strikes straight to the heart? The final postscript says:
Now that you have heard our stories, you are a witness too.
—Judy Cohen, holocaust survivor
The authors have written other books including Whispers from the Ghetto, and Whispers from the Camps (2009), among others. These are excellent stories for pre-teens or older, and can be shared in the classroom or at home. Older children should be able to read them for themselves but may have questions and wish to discuss them afterwards. * * * * *