In 1946, a young survivor of the concentration camps comes to America from Poland with nothing but a mysterious box that never leaves his possession.
Daniel is one of a group of boys who have lost their parents in the Holocaust and have been brought to live and study in a yeshiva in New York City. Daniel is overwhelmed by past horrors and finds adjustment to his present circumstances difficult in the extreme. He is befriended by Aaron, who tries to ease his way into this new life. Many of the boys at school are not exactly kind and considerate; they mercilessly tease Aaron for stuttering, and they keep pushing at Daniel to reveal the contents of the box. They force the issue by taking the box from him and opening it. What they find stuns them, as do Daniel’s heartbreaking reasons for keeping the object. Based on a true story, the narrative is told in Aaron’s voice, with copious use of dialogue to further the plot. Nerlove’s softly hued, full-page illustrations mostly depict quiet, calm moments, making the depiction of the attack on Daniel more startling. Olswanger’s deceptively simple tale can jump-start a discussion of the Holocaust, as well as the repercussions for those who survived and, indeed, for all humanity.
A book to be read by adult and child together. (afterword, glossary) (Historical fiction. 10-14)