The sights, sounds and smells of the Warsaw ghetto assail readers’ senses in a raw, brutal telling of the unimaginable horror of that time and that place.
When the Nazis took Warsaw in 1939, they immediately initiated their separate war against the Jews in an ever-worsening web of destruction. Jews were prevented from using public transportation, doing business or attending schools. Then thousands were moved to the overcrowded ghetto, where they died of epidemics and starvation. Finally, relocations to the concentration camps emptied the ghetto. Sax gives voice to the fear and anger, hopelessness and terror through Misha, a fictional young teen who represents those who really lived and died there. In short staccato sentences, he bears witness to the madness, telling it all, from the struggle to stay alive to the corpses in the streets to the beatings and executions. Misha takes part in the doomed Warsaw Uprising and survives to tell the world of this last act of defiance. Strzelecki’s pen, ink and black-and-white pencil illustrations graphically depict pain and despair as they accompany text printed on stark white or black backgrounds. With the events of the Holocaust growing ever more remote with the passage of time, Sax gives modern readers an unrelenting, heart-rending insight into the hell that the Nazis created.
Gripping, powerful, shattering. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)