Simon's Escape: A Story of the Holocaust

Simon's Escape: A Story of the Holocaust

by Bonnie Pryor

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
The fictional tale of Simon Gorski, a young Polish Jew imprisoned with his family in the Warsaw ghetto, portrays one aspect of the horrors of the Shoah as experienced by a sympathetic character. The early pages are expository, summarizing the loss of Jewish rights and freedom at the hands of the Nazi oppressors. Coincidentally, terms such as "blood libel" as a cause of European anti-Semitism are addressed which gives the book unexpected contemporary relevance. Simon and his brother Jozef are two young boys who, out of necessity and youthful disregard for consequences, turn to smuggling and resistance to help their family survive. Unfortunately, their efforts are ill-fated. Their family still disappears during the round-ups for Treblinka. Simon, because of his Aryan appearance and mastery of the Polish language, is able to escape the ghetto and "pass" in the outside world as a Christian. His journey is fraught with danger from SS soldiers and traitorous Poles ready to expose Jews for a fee. Still, the story addresses the heroism of "Righteous Gentiles," Christians who risked their own lives to hide Jewish neighbors and strangers. This, of course, is the topic for discussion: why did some people act on principle and with courage while others collaborated with the enemy? Simon's story does not skimp on murder and brutality. Yet with graphic descriptions of dead bodies, the author skirts the topic of Simon's likely "outing" as a Jew if it is revealed that he is circumcised. The book concludes with an abbreviated history of the war and events leading to the establishment of Israel as a Jewish homeland. There is also a brief bibliography and a list of internet resources. Include this fast-reading book with factual accounts of survivors and rescuers in a Holocaust curriculum. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
VOYA - Kim Carter
The Historical Fiction Adventures series offer "high-interest, fictional stories" featuring key events and time periods. Simon's Escape opens with Simon Gorski jumping on his bed with a friend in the Gorskis' luxurious two-story Warsaw apartment, until they are interrupted by shots and look outside to see Germans soldiers shooting people in the streets. The Germans take over the city, gradually barring Jews from school, work, and ultimately, access to most food. As the Germans tighten their stranglehold, Simon is faced with no choice but to flee the city, meeting both cruelty and unanticipated generosity in his fight to survive. In The Devil's Door, Sarah Wright and her father, Ephraim, flee the fierce attacks of the Wabanaki Indians in Maine, resettling in Salem Village. A former soldier, Ephraim is enlisted to assist with the arrest and transport of those charged as witches, whose numbers seem to grow exponentially day by day. When Ephraim refuses to arrest any more people, he too is charged with witchcraft, and it is up to Sarah to save him. With similar formats, including "The Real History Behind the Story," the books have straightforward, chronological plot lines. Character development is uneven across the books, with Sarah Wright a compelling character, while Simon Gorski is upstaged by the urgency of the unfolding events. Care is taken to offer perspectives of common people who take advantage of the dire events, as well as those who stand against the inhumanities; still, both the Germans and the Wabanaki Indians are portrayed simply as killers. Providing engaging reading for young readers about complex and, at times, frightening historical events is no small task, and both books do an admirable job of presenting numerous details of daily family and community life while portraying threatening, occasionally horrific, and ultimately life-changing events. (Historical Fiction Adventures) Reviewer: Kim Carter
VOYA - Lorne Carter
Simon's Escape is a pretty good book. It accurately documents, in an entertaining way, situations of the Holocaust that some people experienced. It is an excellent book for young teens and preteens who want to learn about the Holocaust but not be distressed by graphic details. Middle graders looking for an accurate, entertaining, and factual Holocaust book will also like it. (Historical Fiction Adventures) Reviewer: Lorne Carter, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 5�7—In this mediocre novel, a Jewish boy survives the German invasion of Poland, the removal of the Jews to the Warsaw Ghetto, the death of his entire family, and a dangerous and unlikely escape to the woods. It has a purposeful narrative and dialogue that is often didactic and stilted. Introducing children to the events of the Holocaust is difficult primarily because it was so horrific, and allowing unaware readers to imagine that this book is an "Adventure" story is irresponsible. Considering how many fine memoirs and works of juvenile fiction are available to young people on the topic, this book is barely additional at best.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

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Product Details

Enslow Publishers, Incorporated
Publication date:
Historical Fiction Adventures Series
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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