The Champion of Children: The Story of Janusz Korczak

Overview

In 1912, a well-known doctor and writer named Janusz Korczak designed an extraordinary orphanage for Jewish children in Warsaw, Poland. Believing that children were capable of governing themselves, he encouraged the orphans to elect a parliament, run a court, and put out their own weekly newspaper. Even when Korczak was forced to move the orphanage into the Warsaw Ghetto after Hitler’s rise to power, and couldn’t afford to buy food and medicine for his charges, he never lost sight of his ideals. Fully committed ...

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Overview

In 1912, a well-known doctor and writer named Janusz Korczak designed an extraordinary orphanage for Jewish children in Warsaw, Poland. Believing that children were capable of governing themselves, he encouraged the orphans to elect a parliament, run a court, and put out their own weekly newspaper. Even when Korczak was forced to move the orphanage into the Warsaw Ghetto after Hitler’s rise to power, and couldn’t afford to buy food and medicine for his charges, he never lost sight of his ideals. Fully committed to giving his children as much love as possible during a terrifying time, Korczak refused to abandon them.

In his most beautiful and heartfelt book to date, with evocative acrylic illustrations and spare, poignant prose, Tomek Bogacki tells the story of a courageous man who, during one of the grimmest moments in world history, dedicated his life’s work— and ultimately his life itself—to children.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
2009 National Jewish Book Award Finalist in the category of Illustrated Children’s Books

“The endpapers offer a study in contrast, the first showing Warsaw before the war, full of red rooftops and tall trees, while the closing spread shows Warsaw after the war, awash with shadowy silvers and grays. An author’s note describes how Boagacki, himself Polish-born, grew up hearing the stories of Korczak.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Inspiring is a rare word for a realistic Holocaust title, but it is true of this picture-book biography.” Booklist 

“For anyone teaching about the Holocaust, this moving portrait of humanitarian Janusz Korczak is worth a look.”  Instructor

 

“The Best Jewish Picture Books of 2009." "…this is a gorgeous, gently-told book that every Jewish kid should eventually read.”  —Tablet

 

“A passionate picture-book biography of the Holocaust-era children’s advocate and doctor.”

                                                          —Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Beginning with Korczak’s imaginative childhood in 19th-century Warsaw, Bogacki’s (Daffodil, Crocodile) tender but somber book explores the humanitarian’s commitment to children’s rights. He is shown fighting hunger among the indigent, treating children wounded in the Russo-Japanese war and creating an innovative orphanage with a self-governing body of child residents who, despite being relocated to the ghetto during WWII, Korczak refused to abandon. The recurring image of a crowned boy riding a horse, from Korczak’s children’s book King Matt the First, doesn’t temper the stark reality of Korczak and the orphans’ eventual demise in a concentration camp. Ages 5–up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Korczak was a doctor, writer, and advocate for children's rights in pre-World War II Poland. He ran an orphanage for Jewish children and acted as a beloved father figure right up until he and the children perished together in Treblinka. Bogacki's picture-book biography is heartfelt and well researched. However, it seems overwhelmed by its own subject, as the author condenses the details of Korczak's upbringing and the context of the Holocaust into a backdrop for the story of the orphanage. As a result, Korczak doesn't come across as the fascinating man he was, and the book is a bit confusing. Bogacki's childlike illustrations seem wrong for the dark subject matter and dark scenes, particularly since most children don't learn about the Holocaust until fifth grade, and these pictures seem too young for that audience.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Kirkus Reviews
Polish-born Bogacki writes and illustrates a passionate picture-book biography of the Holocaust-era children's advocate and doctor. Early Polish childhood life and interests quickly move into the doctor's student days and expand to his renowned, democratically run orphanage. Korczak's belief that children thrive when they are well cared for and learn to care for one another was the hallmark of his work. He steadfastly stayed with his children during the Nazi invasion and deportation and ultimately perished with them at Treblinka, but his legacy lives on. His defense of the rights of children is the forerunner of the established 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. And though this is a story that ends in dark despair, the author succeeds in creating a positive, upbeat atmosphere with his palette of muted reds, blues and greens, as opposed to that employed by Bill Farnsworth in David A. Adler's A Hero and the Holocaust (2002), which was dominated by gloomy, dark-brown hues. (historical, author's, source notes) (Picture book biography. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374341367
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,163,626
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 1030L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

TOMEK BOGACKI grew up in Poland. He has written and/or illustrated over a dozen books for children, including Five Creatures by Emily Jenkins, a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor Book. He lives in Long Island City, New York.

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