His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg

Overview

An amazing and inspirational World War II story about how one man saved the lives of many.

Raoul Wallenberg’s name may not be a universally familiar one, but the impact he had is immeasurable. Wallenberg was a Swedish humanitarian who worked in Budapest during World War II to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. He did this by issuing protective passports and housing Jews in buildings established as Swedish territory, saving tens of thousands of lives. Louise Borden researched ...

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Overview

An amazing and inspirational World War II story about how one man saved the lives of many.

Raoul Wallenberg’s name may not be a universally familiar one, but the impact he had is immeasurable. Wallenberg was a Swedish humanitarian who worked in Budapest during World War II to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. He did this by issuing protective passports and housing Jews in buildings established as Swedish territory, saving tens of thousands of lives. Louise Borden researched Wallenberg’s life for many years, visiting with his family and the site of his childhood home, and learned his story from beginning to end. Wallenberg himself has not been heard from since 1945. It is suspected he died while in Russian custody, though this has never been proven. Raoul Wallenberg . . . it’s a name you may not have known, but you’ll never forget his story.

Winner of the 2013 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Borden (The Journey That Saved Curious George) gives readers a powerful directive at the outset of her biography-in-verse of humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg: “Look closely/ at this faded school picture from Sweden./ Find the student whose number is 19... Now you,/ and others,/ can become the storytellers/ of this boy’s remarkable life.” The subsequent myriad details about Wallenberg’s privileged upbringing in his native Sweden and abroad might not be as compelling, but the book’s urgency and momentum pick up as WWII gets underway. The reason for Wallenberg’s remarkableness becomes clear halfway through the book: his plan to save thousands of Hungarian Jews trapped in Budapest using Swedish protection documents and safe houses was both daring and effective. Complemented by photographs, maps, and other documents, the narrative is neither rhythmic nor rhyming; though the layout divides lengthy passages into less daunting chunks, it’s unclear that Wallenberg’s story, while fascinating, benefits in any significant way from being told in verse. Wallenberg’s mysterious fate in the hands of Russian captors adds another dimension to a life full of ingenuity, compassion, and bravery. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"Moving and inspiring; Wallenberg’s is a name to remember for all time, and Borden has done an admirable job of ensuring readers will."—Kirkus

"Borden's extensive research is evident throughout. Abundant photographs add immediacy to the narrative, and the double-spaced text and wide margins make the book accessible to students with reading difficulties."—School Library Journal, starred review "Borden takes a little-known story from history and gives it new life and appeal via meticulous research and deft presentation...a compelling and readable nonfiction gem."—VOYA

"Scrupulously researched...The story is riveting, and the stylish prose, in compact, ragged-right format, provides a sense of urgency and mystery."—Bulletin

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
The name Raoul Wallenberg has its place as a "Light Among the Nations" for his mission to free Hungarian Jews from the Nazi war machine. While there are stamps, statues, and plazas named for the Swedish diplomat, the average person may not know his story which is thoroughly researched in this long prose-poem. When read, the poetry is simply a format device. The short lines and single column format may make this a more palatable read for some challenged readers. The book features lots of white space, 12 point type-face, and an abundance of archival quality pictures from Wallenberg's childhood and extensive travels. Borden, in the text of the book, makes a case for Wallenberg's unique qualifications to become a heroic figure. The loss of his father when Raoul was an infant meant that he was heavily influenced by his paternal grandfather who developed in him a sense of adventure and fearlessness that bordered on recklessness. Raoul, however, was never reckless. The brilliant student and linguist matriculated at University of Michigan as an architect and visited France, South Africa, and (then) Palestine before he was out of his twenties. As war approached in Europe, he became determined to help the Jews escape their fate and was specifically drafted by the War Refugee Board and the World Jewish Council to join the neutral Swedish legation, but it was Wallenberg who came up with the idea of creating Shutzpasses, permits official enough to deceive the credential-loving Germans. In this book, the interest is in the details, the minute life experiences that took Wallenberg from what could have been a privileged life in Sweden to the middle of a war. While opportunity may make heroes, it is clear from this book that Wallenberg was nurtured to be one. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
VOYA - Rebecca O'Neil
This innovative biography tells the story of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who was sent to rescue Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during World War II. By printing protective passports called schutzpasse and capitalizing on the Germans' respect for paperwork, Wallenberg created a system of bluffing and stalling that saved thousands from immediate deportation. Primary sources, including scans of photos, passports, maps, and international letters, follow the free-verse text like a well-timed slideshow, even showing "an aerial view of Sweden" when Wallenberg flies from Stockholm to Budapest. Short chapters flow chronologically from his childhood to his mysterious, still-unsolved disappearance in the Soviet prison system in 1945. As with The Journey That Saved Curious George (HMH, 2005), Borden takes a little-known story from history and gives it new life and appeal via meticulous research and deft presentation. The format—which combines the spare imagery of Borden's free verse with pictures of archival material—is unique and vivid, with enough white space and short lines to draw in reluctant middle school readers who may be intimidated by the longer works of such authors as Jim Murphy or Candace Fleming. Indeed, more advanced readers may wonder if this book is "too young" for them, but teens interested in unsolved mysteries, one person's power to make a difference, or Holocaust stories will find themselves riveted. School and public libraries will want this title on their shelves as a fresh offering for biography and Holocaust units, as well as a compelling and readable nonfiction gem. Reviewer: Rebecca O'Neil
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—This is a detailed biography of a "righteous Gentile" whose intelligence, courage, and organizational talents saved thousands of Jews from being sent from Hungary to Nazi concentration camps. Wallenberg came from a wealthy and influential Swedish banking family. Writing in a direct and adulatory tone, Borden carefully chronicles his life, beginning with his birth in 1912 to his mysterious disappearance at the hands of the Soviets after they liberated Hungary from the Nazis at the end of the war. To this day, apparently nobody knows what became of him. Only a citizen from a neutral country like Sweden had any chance of negotiating on behalf of the Jews, and Wallenberg persevered against great odds. Borden's extensive research is evident throughout. Abundant photographs add immediacy to the narrative, and the double-spaced text and wide margins make the book accessible to students with reading difficulties. An extensive bibliography, a list of archive sources, and another of video recordings are appended. This volume adds to the scholarship about Wallenberg already found in Sharon Linnea's Raoul Wallenberg: The Man Who Stopped Death (Jewish Pubn. Society, 1993).—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
An exceptional individual is brought at last to the up-close-and-personal attention of young readers. Raoul Wallenberg, born into a distinguished Swedish family in 1912, was destined for greatness. Outgoing, intelligent, artistic, fluent in multiple languages and deeply imbued with strong moral courage, he traveled the world from a young age. A sense of his life's purpose developed while on business in Budapest in the mid-1940s. There he witnessed firsthand the Nazis' brutal treatment of Hungary's Jews. Eventually assigned to the neutral Swedish legation in Budapest, Wallenberg, on his own and with fellow outraged diplomats, labored tirelessly and at great personal risk to provide special documents and to adopt other measures that brought thousands of Hungarian Jews under royal Swedish protection, thus sparing them from deportation and death. Borden describes this hero's extraordinary life and exploits in free verse, which makes for fast-paced, exciting (though sometimes choppy) reading. Her research has been impeccable, and she has included a wealth of personal and historic detail. The contemporary photos, documents and maps are excellent and place events in lucid context. Readers will be fascinated by the story of this laudable man--and shocked by his ignoble capture and mysterious imprisonment by the Russians at the end of the war. Details about Wallenberg's final days remain unknown. Moving and inspiring; Wallenberg's is a name to remember for all time, and Borden has done an admirable job of ensuring readers will. (epilogue, author's note, bibliography, sources) (Biography. 11 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618507559
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/17/2012
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 578,714
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1080L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Louise Borden is the author of 25 picture books, including the acclaimed The Journey that Saved Curious George. A history major in college, Borden attended Denison University.  Louise and her husband Peter have three grown children, and three grandchildren. They live live in Cincinnati and also in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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