From the Publisher
Oregon Spirit Award
A Booksense Children's 76 Pick
2006 Reading Rainbow Selection
2004 National Jewish Book Award--Jewish Book Council
Notable Book of Jewish Content--Association of Jewish Libraries
2003 Honor Book, Jane Addams Peace Association
Notable Books for a Global Society--International Reading Association
Once Upon a World Award--Simon Wiesenthal Center
Eloise Jarvis MCGraw Award for Children's Literature
Amelia Bloomer Project Selection
Winner, Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award Committee
“Just when it seems a nonfiction Holocaust book can’t tell us anything new, along comes a story like this one, an inspiring, upbeat, true rescue account that is essential to the history.” --Booklist
“... a story that, like Oscar Schindler’s, deserves to be remembered and retold.” --Jewish Woman
A Holocaust heroine emerges in Tryszynska-Frederick's account of being a prisoner at Bergen-Belsen, which McCann judiciously relays in the third person. A Polish Jew, Luba had endured two years in Auschwitz, where her infant son had been taken from her upon arrival; believing that Luba was a nurse, the Nazis sent her to Bergen-Belsen in the winter of 1944 to look after their wounded. She hears the sounds of crying on her first night there, and discovers 54 Dutch babies and children in a field, left to freeze to death. Determined to save them, she obtains food and clothing for them and, just as amazingly, persuades innumerable adults to keep their presence a secret. When the British liberated the camp, 52 of the children were still alive. McCann's presentation emphasizes the miraculousness of the children's survival as opposed to the notorious conditions of the camp. Marshall, a debut artist, offers oil and collage illustrations that show what appears to be a carefully crafted view of Bergen-Belsen: no immediate acts of brutality are depicted, and other hardships are downplayed. More of a context may be needed for the message to resound in its fullness, but this is a welcome story of hope. Ages 8-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"I have found that inside every human being there is a hero waiting to emerge." These are the words of Luba, the woman who was to become known as the Angel of Bergen-Belsen. In 1944, Luba had no idea what destiny had in store for her. In fact she was wondering, "Why was I spared?" Her husband and little son had been taken from her by Nazi soldiers and their fate was unknown. She was lying on a hard bunk in a cold shed in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, ill-fed, and lost in spirit and sick at heart. Then Luba heard something. She heard a child's cry outside, somewhere in the cold night. When she went out and looked for the source of the cry, Luba found fifty-four miserable children. They were of all ages, including several infants. It was as if she was being given the answer to her question; this was why she had been spared. Here was her reason for living. Luba took it upon herself to take care of the children. Somehow she found food and clothing for them all. She begged and bartered for whatever she could and the children survived. Most remarkable of all was the fact that Luba managed to keep their presence a secret. If the camp authorities had found out what was going on, the children and Luba would have been killed. Simply written, but with the attention to detail that could only come from first hand stories, Luba's story is incredibly powerful and moving. Bold oil paintings cleverly accented and textured with collage give the text great warmth and humanity. In addition to the story itself there is an author's note that explains who the children in the story were and how they came to be at Bergen-Belsen. This is followed by a Prologue, which neatly explains the basic outline ofWorld War II and how the concentration camps came into being. At the end of the book an Epilogue tells us what happened once Bergen-Belsen was liberated by the Allied troops and what Luba did with her life following the end of the war. This is followed by an excellent section entitled "World War II and the Holocaust" and a Bibliography. This is a book about a truly remarkable woman, whose courage and determination not only saved the lives of those five-four Dutch children, but also teaches us all something about the power of loving children and caring for others. 2003, Tricycle Press, Ages 8 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Tryszynska-Frederick discovered a number of abandoned children among her fellow prisoners in Bergen-Belsen. Through her own creativity and strength of will, she managed to keep them fed and safe until the liberation of the camp. Although this is certainly a story that is both important and inspirational, the presentation is lacking. The writing is choppy and lacks transitions at times, and it is often unclear how Luba managed to do what she did. The horror of the camp is significantly downplayed in the text, and the oil-and-collage illustrations, while quite well done, do not reflect the reality of the conditions the people were facing. The children often look entirely too clean, well dressed, and healthy. The audience for the book is unclear. While the writing is simple and accessible for primary-grade children, the subject matter and the front and back matter, which gives readers a context for the story, seem intended for older students. While the basic facts are accurate, the heavy use of dialogue blurs the line between fact and fiction, making the book a problematic piece for most collections. Religious libraries with large collections of Holocaust literature might want to add it because of the important story it tells, but most others can pass.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
McCann conveys the remarkable heroism of Tryszynska-Frederick, a young Jewish nurse imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp. Luba's emotional strength, bravery, and determination in the winter of 1944 saved 54 abandoned, starving, and cold Dutch children from their impending death, as she hid them in her barracks for the duration of the war and used her ingenuity and a lot of luck to beg, borrow, and steal food. McCann recounts in lucid narrative prose, with the inclusion of some dialogue, the events and hushed drama as related to her by the real Luba. Well-crafted, this includes a brief introduction and post-script to the Nazi concentration camps and WWII, an epilogue depicting Luba's official Amsterdam recognition with photographs from the liberation of the camp and a 1995 reunion, and a thorough bibliography of books, articles, film, Web sites, personal letters, and interviews. Realistic oil paintings with collage reflect the darkness of the period and the terrifyingly dangerous environment amid the loving concern within the concealed group. One of the beautiful, positive stories that emerged from that awful time, to be remembered and passed on to young and old alike. (author's note, including children's names) (Picture book. 7-12)
Read an Excerpt
Luba lay in her bunk with her eyes closed. Outside, the night was cold and moonless, yet inside, the drafty prison barracks weren’t much warmer. It was Luba’s first night in this strange, new camp. She had no home, no family, and questions plagued her sleep: Why am I still alive? Why was I spared?
Half dreaming, she thought she heard her son Isaac calling her, “Mama! Mama!” But she knew Isaac wasn’t there.
Luba sat up. “Do you hear that?” she whispered to Hermina, who shared her bunk. “Children crying.”
“Only your first night and already you are hearing things?” Hermina rolled her eyes. “You are just dreaming. Go to sleep. The Nazis don’t like crazy people, you know.”
Luba tried to sleep, but the voices returned, “Mama! Mama!”
Who is crying? she wondered. Luba wrapped a thin blanket around her shoulders and went out into the frozen night.
Outside, she could barely see the snow-covered ground, but the cries were clearer. They led her behind the barracks, to an empty field. That’s where she found them: fifty-four children huddled together like lost ducklings.
Some were just babies tucked into pillowcases.