Mochizuki and Lee's (Baseball Saved Us) skillful volume pays tribute to Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat posted to Lithuania who in 1940 saved the lives of thousands of Polish Jews. Defying orders from his government, Sugihara handwrote visas for weeks to grant refugees passage through the Soviet Union to Japan. Told in the voice of his then-five-year-old son, the narrative centers upon the boy's impressions: the creaking of the bedsprings as his sleepless father tossed and turned, the Jewish children huddled outside the consulate, his mother massaging her husband's cramped arm. Lee's precise, haunting art, created by scratching out images from beeswax applied to paper and then adding oil paint and colored pencil, has the look of sepia-toned photographs: it unites carefully balanced compositions and emotional intensity. Mochizuki and Lee's inspired treatment brings out the import of Sugihara's brave and compassionate decision. An afterword by Sugihara's son updates the account: the family spent 18 months in a Soviet internment camp, and his father was stripped of his diplomatic post. A stirring story. Ages 4-up. (May)
- Marilyn Courtot
One person can and does make a difference in this story. Hiroki Sugihara tried to get permission from his government to prepare visas for Jews trying to escape the Nazis. His attempts failed, but his conscience wouldn't let him ignore the pleas of the refugees from Poland congregating outside the Japanese consulate in Lithuania. In the end, after conferring with and receiving the support of his family, he began issuing visas. His tireless efforts over a short period of time saved thousands of lives. It is a remarkable act of heroism and humanity and an important lesson. This book should have a place in every library and be part of the social studies curriculum.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6The story of a Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Jewish refugees in defiance of official government orders. This little-known Schindler-like account is effectively narrated in first-person style, ostensibly by young Hiroki Sugihara, son of the man who was Japanese consul in Lithuania in 1940. As Nazi soldiers invaded Poland, many Jews crossed the border to Lithuania and hundreds besieged the Japanese consulate for travel visas. Three times, Hiroki's father requested permission from his government to issue visas and was refused. He decided to follow his conscience and obey the dictates of God, rather than his government. For the next month, until he was reassigned to Berlin, he issued and personally signed visas, from dawn to dark, while hundreds stood in line for their passage to freedom. An afterword by Hiroki Sugihara tells of the subsequent history of his family. For children, this story will be a lesson in courage and conscience and a valuable addition to Holocaust materials. For those who have some knowledge of the Japanese/German Axis pact, the remarkable actions of Consul Chiune Sugihara carry an added dimension of heroism and brotherhood above and beyond political pressures. Lee's dramatic full-page, sepia-colored illustrations focus on the faces of the Japanese consul and his family, the Jewish men and women appealing for help, and the children, whose fate lay in the hands of the adults, men and women of different races and cultures caught in a fearful time.Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-"If you save the life of one person, it is as if you saved the world entire." This was the exact sentiment of the Japanese diplomat, Sugihara, and his family in Lithuania in 1941. Contrary to government orders, he issued thousands of visas to Polish Jews who became Sugihara survivors and kept their worn pieces of freedom papers as family treasures. For his selfless acts of kindness, Sugihara received the "Righteous Among Nations" Award and in Yaotsu, Japan, the Hill of Humanity is named in his honor. The Sugihara story is brief and concise, but strong and emotional. It is a story of strong belief in doing what is compassionate and right regardless of the consequences. The strong emotions emerge from the dramatic reading and interpretation by Ken Mochizuki. Children will relate to the feelings of Hiroki, the eldest son, from whose eyes the story is narrated. Respect for family, sensitivity of others, and honor toward parents emanate from the narration. Language differences when the Polish children arrive never make a barrier in play or in empathy. Listening to the story is even more dramatic than reading it. The "Afterword" adds authenticity to the story and brings the entire episode to closure. After listening, teachers can lead discussions about World War II, life-altering decisions, selflessness, compassion, and racial prejudice. This story of honor, love, and compassion presents a view of history that is seldom found in history book. It should be purchased by every public and school library.-Patricia Mahoney Brown, Franklin Elementary School, Kenmore, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|