Review: The Brass Charm
The Brass Charm
by Monique Polak, illustrated by Marie LaFrance
Scholastic Canada, 2022
Using storm metaphors and realistic details, the story is based on true events. In the backmatter, the author briefly explains the Holocaust and that her mother received just such a charm from a woman in Terezin when she turned thirteen.
The soft, largely pastel illustrations match the quietness of the story and, at the same time, make the difficult setting palatable to young readers. With their curly hair and similar sympathetic expressions, Tali, her mother, and Oma look like three generations of the same loving family. Terezin prisoners are shown with uncut hair and civilian clothing; because it was a propaganda camp, prisoners did not have their heads shaved or wear uniforms.
The Brass Charm certainly qualifies for serious consideration for a Sydney Taylor Book Award. The historical aspect of the story deals with the Holocaust in realistic but kid-appropriate ways and conveys a message of empathy. The contemporary aspect takes a child’s sadness seriously while also helping the child understand that things can be even worse. This lesson shows the reader how to overcome challenges and to help others do so as well.
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