THE PROMISE by Pnina Bat Zvi
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 7 - 12
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Rachel and Toby promised their parents that they would always stay together.

When the Nazis took away all the Jewish adults, their father managed to slip Toby a tin box with three gold coins hidden in shoe polish, urging them, “above all, stay together.” The sisters never saw their parents again. In Auschwitz they were assigned to a barracks with other young girls. Each day they had to build a wall of heavy stones only to take it down the following day, with the process repeating endlessly. Weakness led to disappearance and death. When Rachel became ill, she was taken away, and Toby knew she had to bring her back before she could be killed. She sneaked out, bribed a prisoner-guard with the precious gold coins, and spirited Rachel back to their own barracks. Toby was whipped for her deed, but the sisters were allowed to remain together and survived the war. The textured illustrations, a mixture of photos and drawings in muted hues, depict characters with very large, expressive faces on smaller, out-of-proportion bodies; they are as grotesque as the events they depict. The coauthors are cousins, daughters of Rachel and Toby, telling the story their mothers told them. Because Rachel and Toby were real people, young readers can empathize and sympathize, but the story does not try to help them understand the Holocaust: That is beyond human comprehension.

Harrowing, moving, and filled with questions that cannot be answered but must be asked. (epilogue) (Picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 18th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-77260-058-2
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Second Story Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2018


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