The Best of April 2014

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The Boy on the Wooden Box

boy on the wooden boxThe author, Leon Leyson, was born Leib Lezjon in Narewka Poland.  He was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and forced his family into the Krakow ghetto.  Courage, determination and luck would leave him a survivor of the ghetto and his next stop – the Plaszow concentration camp.  But ultimately it would be his name on a list, Oskar Schindler’s list, which would save his life, the life of his parents, and the lives of two of his siblings.

Leon was the youngest child on the list, and the only one to publish a memoir.  He tells the story as only a child survivor can, through the eyes of innocence, a combination of fear and confusion.  A child who at the end of each horrific day only wants his mother.  More amazing than his strength, courage, and survival is the seeming lack of bitterness or anger in his telling of the story.  He does not give the Nazis that final power over his life as he comes to California, becomes educated, serves in the military, marries, works, and raises a family with love and dignity.

A perfect way to introduce students to the atrocities of the Holocaust, the book is appropriate for middle school students and teens, giving them a glimpse of the atrocities suffered by children their own age in a story that is ultimately filled with kindness, heroism, and hope.  But this is more than a book for kids, this biography is a moving story for adults, providing a unique perspective.  Beautifully told, this is also a beautiful book, with photographs of Leon and his family as well as photos of Oskar Schindler and his list.

Title: The Boy on the Wooden Box
Author: Leon Leyson
Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Publication:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers, August 2013

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