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Showing posts from April, 2021

Review: Hold On to Your Music

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Hold On to Your Music: The Inspiring True Story of the Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek #ownvoices and Lee Cohen #ownvoices, adapted by Emil Sher #ownvoices, illustrated by Sonia Possentini Little Brown & Company Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Beth Gallego Buy at Bookshop.org On a cold winter day in Vienna, Lisa takes the trolley to her piano lesson, daydreaming about performing Mozart and Beethoven at the symphony hall. When she arrives, her teacher meets her at the door and tells her that the laws have changed, and he can no longer teach Jewish children. At home, Lisa’s parents comfort her, and her mother tells her to “hold on to your music. It will be your best friend.” She repeats this advice one last time as Lisa boards a train with many other children leaving for Great Britain, where their parents hope they will be safe. After arriving in London, Lisa is placed at a group foster home in Willesden Lane. She makes friends with the other children, and is pleased to

Review: Lisa of Willesden Lane

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Lisa of Willesden Lane (Young Readers Edition)  by Mona Golabek & Lee Cohen #ownvoices Little Brown Books for Young Readers Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Leah Cypress Buy at Bookshop.org Lisa of Willesden Lane , by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, tells a fictionalized account of a young Jewish girl's experiences in World War II England. The main character, Lisa, was one of the children of the Kindertransport. Lisa was also an unusually talented pianist, and the stories of her persistence and triumph with her music form a harmonious counterpoint to the historical background of the story. Like most Holocaust narratives that can be adapted for children, Lisa's story involved a lot of happiness and triumph. She was able to get her younger sister onto a Kindertransport, and spent the war mostly surrounded by friends who helped her succeed. Hers is the story of a girl who lived in a terrible time, and suffered some devastating losses, but for whom hope and happiness won out in th

Review: Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure

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 Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure by Anne Dublin #ownvoices Second Story Press Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Kathy Bloomfield Buy at Bookshop.org Friendship, mandolins, and adventure are at the heart of this novel based on a true story. Jacob endures many hardships as an orphan in Mezritsh, Poland, but finds solace in participating in the orphanage’s mandolin orchestra. When given the opportunity to leave Poland to be educated at a Canadian Jewish Farm School outside of Toronto, he jumps at the chance. The children and their chaperones travel hours by train and weeks by ship, to arrive at their destination. While the journey is exciting, and not without its perils, they arrive in Canada and adapt to life at the Farm School. The story culminates in a promised trip to play mandolin at Carnegie Hall in New York. This is a well-written, well-researched historical novel about a unique event in Jewish history, and while not a Holocaust story, per se, those dark times will shadow the reade

Review: Osnat and Her Dove

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 Osnat and Her Dove by Sigal Samuel #ownvoices, illustrated by Vali Mintzi #ownvoices Levine Querido Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Kathy Bloomfield Buy at Bookshop.org Lovely, engaging prose and gorgeous pictures relate the story of Osnat Barzani, considered the first female rabbi and first female Kurdish leader. While most of the book is historical fiction, because few of her writings are extant, the author has done an excellent job of transforming what little is available into a powerful story of wisdom, courage and miracles. Starting with Osnat’s childhood, moving through her marriage and culminating in her rise to Rosh Yeshiva (Head of the School) of her father’s house of study, details of her strength of character, her passion for Torah study, and her care for the students and communities she served abound. The artwork reflects the Sephardic community in Iraq with deep colors and strong lines, bringing the story to life in bold and attractive ways. This gorgeous book has every

Review: Houdini and Me

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 Houdini and Me by Dan Gutman Holiday House Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Meira Drazin Buy at Bookshop.org In Dan Gutman’s middle grade novel HOUDINI AND ME, Harry Mancini is just a regular eleven-year-old kid living in New York City. His one claim to fame is that he lives in the same apartment another Harry used to live in: Harry Houdini, famous escape artist. Things begin to get weird though when someone claiming to be Harry Houdini—who died in 1926— starts texting Harry Manicini from an old cell phone. Of course, it must be a prank. But whoever is texting this Harry knows a lot of things only Harry Houdini himself could know—like how to do some of his most famous tricks. So when Harry Houdini gives Harry Mancini a chance to change places and escape his twenty-first century life for an hour, what could go wrong? Only the fact that Harry Mancini soon finds himself in 1921 Kansas City, in a straight jacket, being cranked nine stories into the air by his feet, forced to perform Harry

Review: We Must Not Forget: Holocaust Stories of Survival and Resistance

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We Must Not Forget: Holocaust Stories of Survival and Resistance by Deborah Hopkinson Scholastic FOCUS (imprint of Scholastic) Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Stacy Nockowitz Buy at Bookshop.org On the heels of her 2020 release, We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport , Deborah Hopkinson gives us another impeccably researched collection of Holocaust survival stories in her new book, We Must Not Forget: Holocaust Stories of Survival and Resistance . Like We Had to Be Brave, We Must Not Forget draws on oral histories, unpublished manuscripts, memoirs, and archives to weave the survivors’ memories together into a cohesive and powerful record of this horrific time in history. But middle graders will gain even more from this reading experience because of the book’s narrative structure. We Must Not Forget is divided into three sections: stories from Germany and the Netherlands, from France, and from Poland. Within each section are chapters that recount the nail-biting