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NICKY & VERA by Peter Sís Kirkus Star


A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued

by Peter Sís ; illustrated by Peter Sís

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-324-01574-1
Publisher: Norton Young Readers

One man made a difference as the full horror of the Holocaust began.

In late 1938, a young Englishman of German Jewish descent named Nicholas Winton, known as Nicky, visited Prague, where he saw the many Jewish refugees from Germany’s Sudetenland annexation and Kristallnacht. Using means both legal and illegal, he organized paperwork and arranged for eight trains to transport 669 children to safety in Great Britain. Veruška “Vera” Diamantova was a 10-year-old Jewish girl whose parents made the wrenching decision to send her away on one of those trains. After the war, Nicky never spoke of it and put the papers in his attic. Fifty years would pass before his wife found them. A TV show with a reunion of Nicky and the surviving children followed. Sís, Czech-born, tells the story in straightforward declarative sentences that drive the narrative. His brilliantly conceived paintings are an emotional anchor. With varying palettes—blue for Nicky, gold for Vera, and gray for the war scenes—the art flows easily from full-page vistas to miniature scenes that swirl and circle around the pages and even within the outlines of figures and buildings. Readers can pore over the details as Vera stands alone in a London train station awaiting her new family and then count the trains that were able to depart.

An extraordinary life memorably and evocatively presented.

(author's note) (Picture book. 7-12)