A HERO AND THE HOLOCAUST

THE STORY OF JANUSZ KORCZAK AND HIS CHILDREN

A biography of the Polish doctor and children’s author who became director of a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw, in which capacity he comforted hundreds of children during the Holocaust. Korczak, himself Jewish (born Henryk Goldzsmit), took up his pen name as a child to appeal to a Gentile audience; as an adult, he dispensed homely advice over the radio, still downplaying his Jewish identity. In his capacity as director of the orphanage, he offered resistance to the Nazis and succor to the children. Korczak emerges as a virtual saint who, as the children were forced into the ghetto, led them in a parade so they would not be frightened. Farnsworth (Great Stone Face, not reviewed, etc.) delivers somber and atmospheric watercolors, painting a genial yet dignified Korczak. (Although, frustratingly, he declines to illustrate the green flag of Korczak’s character King Matt, mentioned in the text twice, which the children carried on the way to the ghetto and then to the trains to give them heart.) Adler (A Picture Book of Dwight David Eisenhower, p. 1214, etc.) does a creditable job of placing Korczak in history, describing simply the looming anti-Semitism of pre-war Poland and leading Korczak, children, and reader into the Warsaw Ghetto together. However, this work must be read or taught in concert with others on the same subject. The author sidesteps the actual nature of the concentration camp to which Korczak and his children were taken, writing only that the “train took [the Jews] to Treblinka. . . . There were signs for trains to other cities. But for Jews, there were no trains out of Treblinka. Janusz Korczak died there with his children.” Introducing the horrors of the Holocaust to young children is no easy feat, but surely treating them honestly is better than such disingenuousness. Reading in isolation, children will wonder what is heroic about a man who calmly led children he loved to these mysterious deaths. Worthy, but needs supplementation. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-8234-1548-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002

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SAINT VALENTINE

The most interesting feature of this retelling of a story about a saint martyred in A.D. 270 is the art, a meticulous re- creation of the medium of its subject's period. Using thousands of tiny, rectangular pieces resembling tiles, Sabuda replicates the effect of Roman mosaics. His simple designs and harmonious, gently muted colors are pleasing, and he achieves surprising subtleties of expression, considering the intractability of the medium. Actually, the illustrations work even better from a slight distance (as with a group), so that the demarcations between the tiny pieces are less predominant. The technique, which tends to congeal the action, makes relatively undramatic illustrations; still, it's a fascinating experiment that brings the ancient world to life by paying tribute to its art rather than by picturing it in a modern style. The straightforward narrative centers on Valentine as a physician whose ointment restores the sight of a jailer's blind daughter, long the saint's friend. It's implied that the long-awaited cure takes place at the moment of his offstage death; the story ends with the joy of the child's renewed vision. An unusual and attractive rendition. Historical note. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-689-31762-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1992

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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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