A moving Holocaust story for younger readers about a young boy sent to Auschwitz and befriended by a magician.
Before the story begins, Werner Reich is taken from his home and sent first to Terezin, then to Auschwitz. In Auschwitz, separated from his mother and sister, the boy is befriended by Herr Levin, a quiet, gentle man. One night, when guards enter the barracks demanding that Levin perform, Werner watches Levin do tricks with cards and string that mesmerize the guards. Levin explains to Werner that he does the tricks not to entertain but to stay alive, and he teaches Werner his magic tricks to help him do so as well. Both survive the war, and Werner later learns that the man who taught him magic tricks was “Nivelli,” a renowned magician who performed throughout Europe before the war. In an afterword, color photographs show an elderly Reich performing card tricks he learned in Auschwitz. This book is presented as a biography, but there are no source notes indicating whether the quotes and situations depicted in the story are from Werner Reich’s remembrances or invented by the author; she does indicate that she met and visited with Reich in her acknowledgments. Although there is a historical note, there are no suggestions for further reading for learning more about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
Though its sourcing is lacking, this is nevertheless a poignant, inspiring story of friendship, hope and survival. (Biography. 7-10)