A gentle, unassuming man’s courage and fortitude saves a Jewish family during the Holocaust in this tale taken from history.
When the Nazis conquered Poland and took over their village, Munio, Milek, Mama, Tata and all the Jews of the village were in immediate danger. True to form, the Nazis quickly burned the synagogue and began roundups of whole families and all the young boys. Their neighbor Anton, a kind, simple man many call a fool, brings girls’ clothing for the boys to disguise themselves temporarily. Then he prepares a hiding place under his house, basically an earthen dugout where they and two girls whose families were taken away will spend the remaining years of the war. Anton is their only contact, constantly risking his life to feed them and keep them safe. Amazingly, at the very moment of near discovery, the Nazis are driven from the village. Modern children are so far removed from the Holocaust that it is extremely difficult to convey its horrors. Upjohn makes this true story personal, immediate and accessible without resorting to bathos or sentimentality. Benoit’s sepia-tinted, ominously shadowed illustrations convey darkness, fear and uncertainty. An afterword accompanied by copious photos tells of the participants’ eventful postwar lives, including Anton’s induction at Yad Vashem as Righteous among Nations. Young readers will need some guidance and input from knowledgeable adults.
Powerful and deeply moving. (Picture book. 8-14)