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Willy and Max: A Holocaust Story
     

Willy and Max: A Holocaust Story

by Amy Littlesugar, William Low (Illustrator)
 

When Max’s dad buys a painting from the window of Willy’s dad’s antique shop, Willy and Max become instant friends.They are just alike, down to their same missing tooth! Even though Max lives in the Jewish quarter, the boys are inseparable—until the Nazis come. They take everything from Max’s family, including the precious painting

Overview

When Max’s dad buys a painting from the window of Willy’s dad’s antique shop, Willy and Max become instant friends.They are just alike, down to their same missing tooth! Even though Max lives in the Jewish quarter, the boys are inseparable—until the Nazis come. They take everything from Max’s family, including the precious painting that began the boys’ friendship.And though they promise to be friends forever,Willy and Max know that something unspeakable is coming between them, and they may never see each other again . . . .

Beautiful and heartbreaking, Willy & Max is the powerful story of two boys separated by circumstance, but held together through generations by a simple painting—and the unbreakable spirit of their friendship.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In the early 1930's, Willy's father owns an antique shop in the city of Antwerp, Belgium. One day, his father puts a beautiful painting called The Lady in his shop window. A man and his young son, Max, purchase the painting. While the fathers talk, the two boys, Willy and Max, find out how much they are alike. These two new friends decide to meet at a park to play the following day. Over time, their friendship grows until one day the Germans invade their country, taking away Max and his family because they are Jewish. Before they leave, Max's father hands the portrait of The Lady to Willy's father for safekeeping. However, the Nazis ransack and loot the antique shop and The Lady is lost. Years later, Willy is grown up and has children and grandchildren, but in all the years he has not heard from Max. One day he gets a call from a museum that found The Lady. They contact Willy because a photograph of the two boys, Willy and Max, is rolled up in the canvas. The museum would like to give the painting back to the original owner. Willy asks them to look for Max. After a long search, they find Max's family but Max is no longer alive. However, Max and Willy's families meet and celebrate a long lasting friendship. The portrait had brought the two families together again. The impressionistic illustrations in this book are glowing gems, full of emotional atmosphere and a real sensitivity to the subject. The author's note at the back talks about the artwork stolen during the war. 2006, Philomel Books, Ages 7 to 12.
—Sally J. K. Davies
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-A story set in Belgium during World War II. Professor Solomon is intrigued by a beautiful painting, The Lady, displayed in the window of the antique shop owned by Willy's papa. Entering the store to make their purchase, the professor and his son, Max, meet Willy, and the two boys soon become inseparable companions. Sealing their bond with a photograph showing them in a friendship embrace, the youngsters promise to be friends forever. But the political climate in Antwerp becomes darker as the conquering Nazis approach and the Jewish professor and his son must escape. Before leaving, the painting is rolled up and brought back to the Christian shop owner, where Willy hides it in the basement. The effort is in vain, however, and the prized artwork is lost to the soldiers. Littlesugar and Low have created a moving story about stolen art during this period. Both Max and Willy eventually move to America, but are never reunited. A serendipitous discovery made by a museum curator results in The Lady being returned to Max's family. Told by Willy's grandson, this important aspect of the Holocaust is a facet that deserves discussion. Low's mixed-media paintings in deep, dark hues have a textured, rugged look, contrasting a neighborhood at peace with the frightening atmosphere of one under wartime occupation.-Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In WWII Antwerp, Christian Willy and Jewish Max become inseparable after Max's father purchases a painting in the shop owned by Willy's father, and they vow to be "friends forever." When the Germans enter Belgium, Max and his family must flee and ask Willy's father to safeguard the artwork, which storm troopers eventually steal. Sixty years pass. Now living in America, Willy receives word from a museum curator that the painting has been recovered-been located through an attached childhood photograph featuring the boys. This leads to Willy's reunion with the now-deceased Max's family to whom he returns the painting, symbolizing that, once again, it has united the friends. This touching story demonstrates that true friendship transcends all odds. Low's paintings capture the time and place, and warm colors predominate as happy memories overshadow horrors. No explanation is given, however, as to just how the photo led the museum to locate Willy and Max's family. An author's note discusses efforts to restore artwork stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners. (Picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399234835
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/16/2006
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
8.82(w) x 11.26(h) x 0.45(d)
Lexile:
AD610L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 Years

Meet the Author

Amy Littlesugar lives in Columbia, Maryland.

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