Irena Sendler is enshrined at Yad Vashem as “righteous among nations” for her courage in rescuing Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.
Brought up by her parents to respect all people, Irena could not stand by and watch the horrors of Hitler’s methodical extermination of the Jews of Warsaw. She worked with a secret underground group to carry out a variety of elaborate deceptions to spirit hundreds of children out of the ghetto to be hidden by other brave gentiles. She kept meticulous records hidden in buried jars because she hoped to reunite the children with their own families at the end of the war, a hope that proved futile because almost all the parents died in the concentration camps. She was captured, tortured and scheduled for execution, but she managed to escape and go into hiding. Finding a way to impart even a small understanding of the Holocaust to children is a task fraught with difficulties: How can anyone comprehend such insanity? Vaughan tells the true story without embellishment, employing stark, unadorned syntax that never wavers into pathos, sentiment or myth. It is a definition of quiet heroism. Mazellan’s very dark, deeply shadowed oil paintings capture the unabated terror and sorrow. Children should read this work with an adult who is armed with some knowledge of the material.
Powerful. (afterword, glossary, sources) (Informational picture book. 9-12)