Hilde and Eli, Children of the Holocaust

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Adler and Ritz follow up their A Picture Book of Anne Frank by briefly describing two other young victims of the Holocaust, 18-year-old Hilde Rosenzweig and nine-year-old Eli Lax. Neither has a particular claim on public memory-Hilde's brother escaped from Germany to England in 1940, while three of Eli's sisters survived various concentration camps; these siblings told Hilde's and Eli's stories to Adler. Unfortunately, Adler deals out sweet generalizations and few telling particulars ("Eli had no real toys, but he was a happy child who was always smiling"), thus failing to memorialize Hilde and Eli as anything but representative victims of the Nazis. Ritz's paintings seem modeled on photographs, but they, too, have a generic quality. It should be noted that a basic awareness of the Holocaust is presumed-this story is only for those with a previously developed interest in the subject. Ages 6-9. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Hilde Rosenzweig and Eli Lax were both Jewish children who were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust; they had nothing else in common. Thus, pairing their stories for this book seems peculiar and contrived. Opening with Hilde, who was born in Germany in 1923, Adler portrays Hitler's rise to power and the Nazi political agenda from the German/Jewish perspective. He then introduces Eli, who was born in 1932 in Czechoslovakia, and sets the stage for the spread of Nazism and World War II. The integration of the facts into the stories of these two children's lives creates a confusing text that has too many complex political elements for the younger end of the intended audience and a picture-book format that's too juvenile for older readers. Ritz's paintings reflect the times with their muted, often somber colors. However, the faces are often distorted and the swastikas sometimes resemble the letter aleph in the Hebrew alphabet. A much better glimpse into the lives of children of the Holocaust for a younger audience is Chana Byers Abells's The Children We Remember (Greenwillow, 1986). Howard Greenfeld's The Hidden Children (Ticknor & Fields, 1993), Rian Verhoeven and Ruud Van Der Rol's Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary (Viking, 1993), and Nelly S. Toll's Behind the Secret Window (Dial, 1993) are all better offerings for older readers.-Sharon Grover, Arlington County Department of Libraries, VA
Zom Zoms
Through the biographies of two Jewish children, this picture book for older readers will bring home to grade-schoolers what the Holocaust meant to kids like them. Nothing is sensationalized, but the facts are terrifying. The history is told from the point of view of children who were there, and no false comfort is offered. Hilde Rosenzweig lived happily with her family in Frankfurt, Germany, until Hitler came to power, and her life was restricted by vicious anti-Semitism. Eli Lax never met Hilde: he lived in Czechoslovakia in a mountain village. Then World War II broke out, and the Nazis came. "They planned to kill every Jew in Europe." The SS murdered Hilde in a freight train filled with poisonous gas. Eli died in the gas chambers in Auschwitz. The text is quiet, the particulars inexorable, drawn from Adler's interviews with the surviving relatives. The illustrations are powerfully realistic, contrasting the light-filled happiness of the pre-Nazi times with the gray-toned and sepia scenes of the roundups and camps. One unforgettable picture shows Eli in bed, rigid with terror, hearing his cousins scream as they are taken away in the night. In fact, the pictures are almost overwhelming at times, taking up much of every page. Leitner's autobiographical "The Big Lie" 1992 is just as stark and uncompromising, but the restrained occasional charcoal illustrations allow for some distance. Despite the format, "Hilde and Eli" is not for very young children. It will be an important resource in the middle grades, especially in curriculum units where kids can talk about it together with an adult.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823410910
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 36
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.26 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great introduction for children...

    First of all, ignore the cover in the photo because it's for the wrong book!

    This book is a wonderful introduction to the Holocaust for children. It's easy to understand, wonderfully illustrated, and definitely appropriate for young children.

    This book shows children that the kids in the Holocause were just normal kids. They weren't any different than the readers.

    If you'd like to introduce your children to this topic, this is a great start!

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  • Posted February 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Hilde and Eli Review

    The story details the short lives of two Jewish children who are taken out of their homes and forced into concentration camps along with their families. The children in the book are just two examples of the many children that died during the Holocaust. This is a book that can be useful for helping students learn more about the Holocaust. It gives some details on what actually happened to people as the Nazis took over and forced so many people into concentration camps. This book should be read by children who already have some previous knowledge or interest of the Holocaust.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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