HANA'S SUITCASE by Karen Levine


Age Range: 10 - 14
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In 1998, the director of the newly endowed Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center's museum, whose mission is to educate Japanese students about the horrors of the Holocaust, set out to obtain artifacts for display. The Auschwitz Museum obliged by sending several items, including a small suitcase with the name Hana Brady and the German word for "orphan" painted on the front. The director, Fumiko Ishioka, supported by a group of students who had formed a club to promote understanding of the Holocaust, resolved to learn Hana Brady's story. Alternating chapters tell of the director's detective work, which takes her all the way to the site of Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic, and Hana's brief life in which Theresienstadt was the last stop before Auschwitz and the gas chamber. It is at the Jewish Museum in Prague that Fumiko learns that Hana had a brother who survived the war and emigrated to Toronto. Hana's brother, George, sends Fumiko the photos that enliven this work and then himself makes the trip to Tokyo to meet the children of the "Small Wings" club. Based on a radio documentary by the author aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Hana's story will captivate young readers as it unfolds. Levine successfully incorporates the two stories: a bleak story of a young girl's pointless suffering and death at the hands of fellow humans, the other a hopeful one of children, a world away in space and time from the events that deprived Hana of her future, who vow "never again." (Nonfiction. 10-14)

ISBN: 0807531472
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Whitman