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Let the Celebrations Begin
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Let the Celebrations Begin

5.0 1
by Margaret Wild, Julie Vivas (Illustrator)
 

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Amid rumors of liberation, inmates at Germany’s Belsen camp create toys for a celebration in a moving story of hope, based on a true account.

Miriam lives in hut 18, bed 22. She has little to eat and nothing to play with, but she can remember what it was like before, when she had her own food, her own bed, and her very own toys. As World War II nears

Overview

Amid rumors of liberation, inmates at Germany’s Belsen camp create toys for a celebration in a moving story of hope, based on a true account.

Miriam lives in hut 18, bed 22. She has little to eat and nothing to play with, but she can remember what it was like before, when she had her own food, her own bed, and her very own toys. As World War II nears an end, everyone says the soldiers are coming, so Miriam joins the women in planning a celebration. Every night, while the guards sleep, they busy themselves crafting toys out of scraps of their clothing to surprise the younger children. Based on a reference to a small collection of stuffed toys made by women in Belsen for the first party held after the liberation of the camp, this new edition of Let the Celebrations Begin!, originally published in 1996, is an affecting story of human survival.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A touching—almost overwhelming—story that details a celebration for the liberation of Bergen-Belsen at the end of World War II. ... This small, bright, and incredibly hopeful story provides a gentle introduction for young and sensitive readers.
—School Library Journal
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
At first the reader will feel a disconnect between the jubilant title of this Holocaust book and the water color picture of concentration camp survivors sitting on the shelves that served as their bunks. Although the inmates are barely recognizable as women and girls because of their shaved heads and ragged clothing, these are the people who survived until the end of the war. Yes, it is time for a celebration. Allied troops are coming to liberate the camp, “Everyone says so,” is the recurrent refrain. A young girl names Miriam who, against all odds, has survived the horrors, plans with the adult women in the barracks a celebration for when the liberation finally happens. The female survivors will gather scraps of fabric and buttons, and even parts of a sweater from the ever-kvetchy woman, Jacoba. They will make toys for the children who survived. Miriam remembers better days, full of good food and wonderful toys. She may have come from a privileged background, but now she is the same as all the other women. At the end, the women lovingly created a small assortment of patchwork toys that are miraculous to the young recipients. The liberators come, although they are unseen to the reader, and a celebration with food ensues. The text is too dense for young children, and the subject could be too horrifying. In this new edition, the back matter includes recollections from the editor, author and illustrator about how this poignant book was created. As part of a small group of Holocaust-themed picture books such as Patricia Polacco’s The Butterfly and Roberto Innocenti’s Rose Blanche, this is a serious book to initiate the conversation about this dark period in history. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross; Ages 7 to 10.
School Library Journal
01/01/2015
Gr 2 Up—Originally published in 1991 and only available in paperback for some time, this is a touching—almost overwhelming—story that details a celebration for the liberation of Bergen-Belsen at the end of World War II. The women and children in Hut 18 have heard that the liberation is coming. Miriam, our narrator, describes the camp: no food, everyone sad, everyone hoping to be freed. A party is planned for the opening of the gates and toys will be made for each child for the celebration. The toys are made from scraps of cloth, often from someone's rags: a sleeve, a button, a piece of yarn. It is a secret; a surprise for the children. In a book about antique toys, that mentions toys made for the children of Bergen Belsen, Margaret Wild created a story that is frightening in its truth but hopeful for the future. The illustrations, done in watercolor, spare no truth: the clothes are rags that barely cover them, children and women (there are no men) are stick-thin, and everyone's hair is just a scrim of stubble. Despite this heartrending realism, readers will see and feel the hope in the prisoners' eyes and recognize how they believed the toys would help them heal. While the topic of the Holocaust and the camps has become familiar to students and families, this small, bright, and incredibly hopeful story provides a gentle introduction for young and sensitive readers.—Susan Lissim, Dwight School, New York City
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Discussing Nazi concentration camps in a picture book demands an extraordinary balance of sensitivity and fidelity to history; Wild and Vivas make a brave effort but fall short of attaining this standard. The story plunges the reader into an unnamed concentration camp--indeed, no clues are supplied to explain either the camp's existence or its prisoners' presence there. There are neither guards nor guns; and the story line contains similar omissions. Just prior to the camp's liberation, Miriam, just old enough to remember home, plentiful food and toys, joins women in gathering odd scraps to fashion into toys, to be given to the other children after they are freed. (A prefatory note mentioning toys created by the women of Belsen attempts to authenticate this improbable plot; more likely these were made after liberation.) Throughout an effort is made to put a good face on horror: suffering is suggested visually chiefly by twisting the big-eyed characters into grotesque postures, and there's something monstrous about forcing the moribund into cheerful attitudes. The book will raise disturbing questions, but leaves it to others to offer the even more disturbing answers. Ages 3-6. (Aug.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763670139
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
09/09/2014
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
1,387,412
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Margaret Wild is a highly regarded and award-winning children’s book author whose book There’s a Sea in My Bedroom was short-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal. She lives in Australia.

Julie Vivas is an acclaimed illustrator whose books include The Nativity, which she also wrote, and Possum Magic by Mem Fox. She lives in Australia.

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Let the Celebrations Begin 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
YoungMensanBookParade More than 1 year ago
This book is very well written and like nothing I’ve ever read before. The holocaust is a very sad topic, but this author finds a way to highlight the hope in a very sad situation. The people use parts of the little bit of clothes they have to make toys to use when they are set free. They are hopeful that they will be set free soon. The pictures are good for the topic. The illustrator uses mostly faded and dull colors, showing that the people have been there for a long time, their clothes are old, and this is a dirty and unhappy place. Bright colors would go with the sad mood of the topic. Review by Lucy H., age 8, Tampa Bay Mensa