Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz, Ruth Gruener, Jack Gruener |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Prisoner B-3087

Prisoner B-3087

4.8 41
by Alan Gratz, Ruth Gruener, Jack Gruener

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Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps.

10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.

It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been


Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps.

10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.

It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later.

Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will -- and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Nazis killed more than one million Jewish children and teenagers; Jack (Yanek) Gruener, who was 10 when Krakow, Poland, fell, was a rare survivor. “Survive,” however, hardly seems adequate to describe what unfolds in these pages. Having lost his parents and close relatives just as he entered adolescence (Yanek has a secret bar mitzvah in a basement of the Krakow ghetto), the boy is totally alone as his life becomes a roll-call of nightmares: Trzebinia, Bir-kenau (where his arm is tattooed with the number in the book’s title), Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Gross-Rosen. Yanek is finally liberated at age 16, when American soldiers arrive at Dachau. Gratz (Fantasy Baseball) has fictionalized some aspects of Gruener’s life to “paint a fuller and more representative picture of the Holocaust as a whole,” and this determination to be exhaustively inclusive, along with lapses into History Channel–like prose, threatens to overwhelm the story. But more often, Gratz ably conveys Yanek’s incredulity (“Not long ago, all these half-dead creatures around me had been people”), fatalism, yearning, and determination in the face of the unimaginable. Ages 10–14. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

A Golden Sower Award Winner!
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
Yanek Gruener was only ten years old when the Germans invaded his native land of Poland. Swiftly the German troops conquered Yanek's nation and occupied Krakow, where he and his family lived. As a Jew, Yanek was immediately subjected to the terrible hatred the Nazis had for him and all other members of his faith. But, even as the Germans inflicted indignities and brutality upon Yanek, his family, and all the Jews of Poland he could hardly imagine just how deep Nazi hatred of European Jews ran. In short order Yanek lost nearly his entire family and found himself in a concentration camp with his last remaining relative, Uncle Moshe. Over the course of six years Yanek was to travel from one camp to another, each more brutal than the last. During his journey of suffering Yanek became completely isolated in his hopelessness but somehow persisted in living. In the end, it was an inner spark of resilience linked to fate that allowed Yanek Gruener to survive his dreadful ordeal and eventually come to the United States to make a life. Here, in Prisoner B-3087, Alan Gratz and Jacob Gruener tell the story of this ordeal and eventual redemption. While there are many Holocaust books this particular addition to this vast library of suffering and hope is particularly effective. One can hardly imagine anyone surviving the manifold horrors that Yanek Gruener faced let alone his living to see his complex story told in print. By reading books such as Prisoner B-3087 we come away changed by the paired knowledge of the depths of evil that people are capable of alongside our innate ability to live via hope. This is a fine book told with elegance and realism. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
VOYA - Susan Redman-Parodi
Based on a true story, (now) Jack Gruener—Polish name Yanek Gruener—was a ten-year-old Jewish boy when World War II broke out. Jewish citizens in Poland were brutally forced out of their homes and either killed or required to work in labor camps run by the Nazis. Wrenched from his family, Yanek is moved to more than ten concentration camps in the years of the war and made to endure unspeakable tortures, including starvation, beatings, and being worked mercilessly in deplorable conditions, always with the threat of imminent death. With a will to survive despite the terror he faced, he lived through one of history's most devastating atrocities to tell his story. Prisoner B-3087, Yanek Gruener, tattooed by the Nazis and counted as their inventory, will be forever marked by these events with the crude tattoo on his forearm; however, his determination made no offering to the Nazis who bargained for his life and soul. Heartbreaking, gripping, raw, and emotional, the story will draw readers into the plot and have them invested in the history of what so many were robbed of the chance to tell. Storytelling at its finest, Prisoner B-3087 is an excellent choice for a companion in teaching the Holocaust and as a resource to aid understanding of the unimaginable plight of the Jewish under the Nazi regime. This selection will bring about awareness and spark discussion in classrooms where a textbook history lesson may leave the learner devoid of the impact that a "based on a true story" historical fiction account will leave. Ruth and Jack Gruener travel the country to speak about their experiences with the Holocaust, and this book is both a testament and an account that will have far-reaching significance and should not be missed. Reviewer: Susan Redman-Parodi
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—"If I had known what the next six years of my life were going to be like, I would have eaten more. I wouldn't have complained about brushing my teeth, or taking a bath, or going to bed at eight o'clock every night." Yanek Gruener was 10 years old when the German army invaded Poland in 1939 and trapped his family inside the walls of the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. Over the course of World War II, he saw his parents deported by the Nazis and survived 10 different concentration camps. Through Gratz's spare, persistent prose, the story of the boy's early life unfolds with the urgency and directness necessary for survivor stories. While some liberties have been taken, with the permission of Gruener and his wife, Ruth, also a survivor, the experiences and images come directly from the Grueners' collective memories of the war. An author's note provides further biographical information. A powerful story, well told.—Sara Saxton, Tuzzy Consortium Library, Barrow, AK
Kirkus Reviews
If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told. At least, the very beginning of this historical novel reads as such. It is 1939 and Yanek Gruener is a 10-year old Jew in Kraków when the Nazis invade Poland. His family is forced to live with multiple other families in a tiny apartment as his beloved neighborhood of Podgórze changes from haven to ghetto in a matter of weeks. Readers will be quickly drawn into this first-person account of dwindling freedoms, daily humiliations and heart-wrenching separations from loved ones. Yet as the story darkens, it begs the age-old question of when and how to introduce children to the extremes of human brutality. Based on the true story of the life of Jack Gruener, who remarkably survived not just one, but 10 different concentration camps, this is an extraordinary, memorable and hopeful saga told in unflinching prose. While Gratz's words and early images are geared for young people, and are less gory than some accounts, Yanek's later experiences bear a closer resemblance to Elie Wiesel's Night than more middle-grade offerings, such as Lois Lowry's Number the Stars. It may well support classroom work with adult review first. A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Alan Gratz is the author of a number of books, including SAMURAI SHORTSTOP, which was named one of the ALA's 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, and THE BROOKLYN NINE, which was among Booklist's Top Ten Sports Books and Top Ten Historical Books for Youth in 2010. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Alan is now a full-time writer living in western North Carolina with his wife and daughter. Look for him online at

Ruth Gruener was born Aurelia Gamser in 1930s Poland. Ruth and her parents survived the Holocaust by hiding in the homes of gentile families. After World War II was over, Ruth and her family moved to the United States, where Ruth tried to start an ordinary teenage life in Brooklyn. Ruth is married to Jack Gruener, another Holocaust survivor, and they have two children and four grandchildren. Ruth and Jack live in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, and Ruth works as a docent at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown Manhattan. She and Jack travel all over the country to speak to schools about their experiences in the Holocaust

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