A Hero and the Holocaust: The Story of Janusz Korczak and His Children

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Adler tells the story of the Jewish author, doctor, and orphanage director. Throughout the book, Adler gives hints of the trouble brewing in Poland in the 1930s, without really making clear who the Nazis were or why they were seizing property and burning books. However, the main focus of the narrative is Korczak's relationship with the children he cared for. He is depicted as a kindly "Old Doctor" who allowed the children to draw on his bald head. He is unable, however, to protect them or himself from the invasion of Warsaw. The deportation of Korczak and the children, first to the Ghetto, and later to Treblinka, is described but not explained. Why have the children been sent here? Why is no one able to help them? Youngsters who have not studied the Holocaust may be confused and startled by the stark sentences about the camp: "But for Jews, there were no trains out of Treblinka. Janusz Korczak died there with his children." Farnsworth's paintings, beautifully realistic oils on linen, depict a dark world dominated by shades of gray and brown. Splashes of green and red-a bottle here, a scarf there-bring a sense of hope into the art that is not found in the text. The subject matter seems better suited to a longer book for older students than a means of introducing a horrific time in history to young children. This book would be useful as a supplement to other Holocaust materials, but on its own it is an additional purchase.-Martha Link, Louisville Free Public Library, KY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A biography of the Polish doctor and children’s author who became director of a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw, in which capacity he comforted hundreds of children during the Holocaust. Korczak, himself Jewish (born Henryk Goldzsmit), took up his pen name as a child to appeal to a Gentile audience; as an adult, he dispensed homely advice over the radio, still downplaying his Jewish identity. In his capacity as director of the orphanage, he offered resistance to the Nazis and succor to the children. Korczak emerges as a virtual saint who, as the children were forced into the ghetto, led them in a parade so they would not be frightened. Farnsworth (Great Stone Face, not reviewed, etc.) delivers somber and atmospheric watercolors, painting a genial yet dignified Korczak. (Although, frustratingly, he declines to illustrate the green flag of Korczak’s character King Matt, mentioned in the text twice, which the children carried on the way to the ghetto and then to the trains to give them heart.) Adler (A Picture Book of Dwight David Eisenhower, p. 1214, etc.) does a creditable job of placing Korczak in history, describing simply the looming anti-Semitism of pre-war Poland and leading Korczak, children, and reader into the Warsaw Ghetto together. However, this work must be read or taught in concert with others on the same subject. The author sidesteps the actual nature of the concentration camp to which Korczak and his children were taken, writing only that the "train took [the Jews] to Treblinka. . . . There were signs for trains to other cities. But for Jews, there were no trains out of Treblinka. Janusz Korczak died there with his children." Introducing the horrors of the Holocaust to youngchildren is no easy feat, but surely treating them honestly is better than such disingenuousness. Reading in isolation, children will wonder what is heroic about a man who calmly led children he loved to these mysterious deaths. Worthy, but needs supplementation. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823415489
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/15/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.20 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    Adrian Robinson Social Studies 2nd period 12/11/07 Book Review A Hero and the Holocaust by David A. Adler Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth I read the book, ¿A Hero and the Holocaust,¿ by David A. Adler. This book is about Janusz Korczak, a man who lived in Poland in WWII. This book was about Janusz and the orphan kids trying to survive and make it through the war. They didn¿t make it through the war as they were boarded on a train and headed to concentration camps. The book wasn¿t all sad, as my favorite part was when he let a little orphan girl draw pictures on his bald head. I thought that was pretty funny. The saddest part of the book was when the kids died in the concentration camps because they were getting sick. This book was really good, and it was a true story. I had never heard this story before and it was well told, but sad. I learned about the Holocaust and how some people lived during it. I would tell other people to read this book because it is a very emotional book.

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