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Prisoner B-3087

Prisoner B-3087

4.8 45
by Ruth Gruener, Jack Gruener, Alan Gratz

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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.


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

Praise for Prisoner B-3087:

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Golden Sower Award, 2014-2015 Winner Nebraska

Isinglass Teen Read Award, 2014-2015 Winner New Hampshire

Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award, 2014-2015 Winner Pennsylvania

Junior Book Award, 2015-2016 Winner South Carolina

Grand Canyon Reader Award, 2015-2016 Winner Arizona

Truman Readers Award, 2015-2016 Winner Missouri

Readers Choice Awards, Winner 2015-2016 Virginia

Volunteer State Book Award Winner, 2015-2016 Tennessee

"A powerful story, well told." -- School Library Journal

"A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored." -- Kirkus Reviews

"[A] remarkable survival story." -- Booklist

"Gratz ably conveys . . . fatalism, yearning, and determination in the face of the unimaginable." -- Publishers Weekly

"Heartbreaking, gripping, raw, and emotional . . . storytelling at its finest." -- VOYA

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 acclaimed author of several books for young readers, including Prisoner B-3087, which was named to YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list; Code of Honor, a YALSA 2016 Quick Pick; and The Brooklyn Nine, which was among Booklist’s Top Ten Sports Books. Alan lives in North Carolina with his wife and daughter. Look for him online at www.alangratz.com.

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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Prisoner B-3087 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love learning about World War II, and this book was just the right one for me. It described all of the terrible things that the Nazis tortured the Jews with. I couldn't believe how badly they treated their own kind... like animals. Reading this book made me so grateful for what I have--especially my family. This book is about a teenage boy who's whole family gets transported away from the village and killed. He never sees any of them again. In this astonishingly true story, you will read about something you never would've thought happened only a few years ago.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This a great book for all ages. I just read it now and i loved it. F you want to learn about what it was like in a concentration camp or are looking for a good book to read this is the book for YOU! Worth reading.
librarysusie More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting story it is fiction but the author says at the end that it was inspired by the true events of one man’s life. I chose this book because of the description saying he had survived 10 different concentration camps which fascinated me; however there were times when the descriptions of these different camps left a lot to be desired the first camp we got more of a feel of what he went through. Then the salt mines was only 7 pages long and it never really says just how long he was there, it felt like this section was only there to tell you what happens to Judenrats. In Birkenau when Yanek is taken straight to the showers but only water comes out because the Nazi’s like playing games, I’m just not sure if this is something that really happened often? Also he says that he was in Birkenau for a couple months but this section is only about 20 pages. In Auschwitz when he is getting into the train station and sees the new prisoners still in their own clothes and carrying luggage, still believing that everything will be ok, this was a powerful visual of the prisoners who were dirty and skeletal and these new people thinking that would never be them. Once he is leaving Auschwitz to walk to the next camp, they are hearing more allied troops getting closer hoping they will come rescue you but seeing things just get worse and worse. Yanek was told by his Uncle Mosche to be invisible and to not show caring for anyone lest it be used against you Yanek held that belief throughout all the camps only going against it a couple times and it seemed that every time he went against it something awful happened. I also can’t help but wonder how those words followed him throughout his life after surviving the camps. I think this would have been an even more compelling book if the author had gone into more detail of each camp, as it is, it is one story from each camp, like that is the only thing that happened the whole time he was there. But I did learn new things I never realized they moved prisoners so often (or at least this book makes it seem like they do). Also this is a book for young people so maybe the shorter stories are better but I still wish there had been a little more to it. In the afterward we find out that Yanek now Jack survived, went to America and was drafted into the Korean War all I could think was wow hasn’t he been through enough you’d think he’d be exempt! Luckily he survived another war and went on to be married and have children and grandchildren and he and his wife speak about their experiences in the Holocaust , I will be doing some more research to find out more about Yanak/Jack. Recommend for middle grade readers. 3 ½ stars Full disclosure I received this book from netgalley and the publisher for a fair and honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the most incredible book I have read recently. It was a difficult time for the jewish people and this book most definitly portrayed that. This man was full of courage and strength. God blessed him with life after this horrible event. Praise the Lord he was able to see happiness after all that struggle. Great book and would recommend to anyone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great story for all ages. Lots of action
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved thus book i read it last year if anyone is looking for a good book to read, read Prisoner B3087!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. And to think that it is a true storyis unbeleivable. The graphics you get in your head are unbeleivable. You can imagine being there with him. This is a wonderful book that inspires you and others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I read this, I truly fell in love with it! It was such a good book, and so interesting, oh my gosh! 5 stars from me, that's for sure!
jmchshannon More than 1 year ago
The Nazi atrocities towards anyone they believed to be their inferiors is something that students must continue to learn and study if we hope to avoid something similar in the future. Yet, it is such a tricky subject to approach when children are younger. The need to protect a child’s innocence wars with the need to inform. Often this can result in a story that only hints at what happened, forcing children to infer the truth, if possible, or leaving the tougher questions for their teachers and parents to answer. Alan Gratz’s Prisoner B-3087 is one of the few novels that fully informs but does so without scarring or scaring its young readers. Geared towards children through grade nine, Prisoner B-3087 is written in such a way that readers of all ages can appreciate Yanek’s story and learn varying lessons from it. For those older readers, including adults, the full horrors of Yanek’s experiences are difficult to believe and to stomach. Yet, for younger readers, they will be able to gloss over the more morbid details and focus on Yanek’s personal narrative about keeping his sense of identity and his will to survive. Each element of his story is important and vital for starting discussions, but it allows those discussions to be age-appropriate in a way few novels about the Holocaust are. This is not to say that Yanek’s narrative is not without its sense of the macabre. No story about the Holocaust can be without discussions of the gas chambers, the chimneys, the starvation, the cattle cars, the humiliation, and the sense of isolation that the Nazis utilized so well. Yanek witnesses and experiences things no one person should ever have to see in his or her life time, and he does not hide those experiences. Yet, as If to ease the emotional turmoil of his story, it is Yanek’s profound sense of identity and his all-encompassing drive to survive upon which a reader focuses his attention. It is this desire to live which leaves a reader filled with hope rather than despair. One grows up learning about the atrocities of various concentration camps – Birkenau, Bergin-Belsen, Dachau, Auschwitz, and too many more to name. The thought of someone surviving one of those locations is difficult to imagine, but to have survived living in ten different labor and death camps is unfathomable, which makes Yanek’s story so effective. If anyone has a complete understanding of the Nazi methodology and mindset, it would be someone who understood how to play their games and did so to survive almost unbeatable odds. Even though Mr. Gratz mentions that there is a fictional element behind his tale, Yanek’s story is still one of profound courage and strength of mind. The facts remain that Yanek Gruener survived not only the Krakow ghetto, he survived not one but two death marches, multiple journeys by overcrowded cattle car, labor camps, death camps, sadistic camp commandants, fellow prisoners, total starvation, and the mental and physical games the Nazis employed to further subjugate their prisoners. He not only survived but continues to share his story with others as a lesson in fortitude and human depravity. This is ultimately what makes Prisoner B-3087 so effective for readers of any age.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Greatest book I've ever read!!!
Anonymous 6 days ago
BEST BOOK IN THE WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous 22 days ago
I loved this book so much and this is coming from a kid
Anonymous 5 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book about WWII and I highly recommend it for young readers. While it gives historical fact, it is important for young readers to recognize what others have endured and how precious each and every human life is. We take so much for granted and it is a wonderful reminder of what is truly important in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book that ive read it is almost better than to kill a micking and if you only read one book let this be it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book has the perfect amount of history and fiction and i would recomend this book to anyone who likes a book fool of suspense
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book not only represents the terror of being Jewish during WW2 but how its like being a child of the time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So sad but so interesting BEST BOOK EVER!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My teacher showed this book to me. When i started reading this book i feel in love worn it. I want to read more like this book. I would recommend thus book to someone who like realist fiction or non fiction. I would read yhis all over again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is something facinating about the horrors of the Holocaust anf all these stories of survivors being much braver than most people in our society could be. Thsi book was really good and I would recommend it to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing.IF THERE IS ANY SPELLING ERRORS IN THIS PLEASE READ PAST THEM. If you like books about World War ll and the diffrent concertratipn camps this is the book for yu. Jac is a very brave boy and he does many things that I don't think that I could do ever in my life. This book was not a life changer bot it was abook that you fall in love with after you read the first few chapters. Jack was not one of tjr charchters that you would be thinking that he is going to do something that will make the story a life changer but he is . This is not a book hat you should read ifyou are depressed because many sad things happen in the book.The people that you don't want to die do. The book was well writen and the dact that the book was about the concentreaion camps is what made me want to read this book. Alan Gratz is an anazing author and after reading this book I have read 2 other books writen by Alan Gratz. The book was amazing andI recomendthis book to many people and hope that after reading this review you are inspred to read this book. Just likeI was after reading a diffrent review.