From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 2-4–The experiences of Russo's relatives before, during, and after World War II are the basis for this story about a grandmother sharing with her young granddaughter photo albums of her "first life" (in Germany) and her "second life" (after the war). Rachel's family gathers for Sunday dinner at Oma's. After the meal, Oma tells the girl of her marriage and her family's happy life; her husband's death after World War I; the rise of the Nazi party and denial of rights to Jews; the burning and looting of Jewish businesses; and life in a concentration camp. At war's end, Oma and her three daughters were reunited in America. Now she gives Rachel the gold heart necklace that her own grandmother gave her many years ago when her family left Poland for Germany ("When you wear this…always remember me and…May luck follow you wherever you go"). This book introduces the Holocaust in a simple but factual narrative that can be easily understood by youngsters who have no knowledge of World War II. Gouache illustrations in Russo's familiar folk style are accompanied by many re-creations of old photos, government papers, money, an identity card–all helping to bring the events to life. Photos on the endpapers show the author's family. This offering answers the need for appropriate Holocaust literature for young children and should be considered a first purchase.–Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
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Gr. 3-5. In a moving picture book, Russo tells her Jewish family's story of Holocaust survival. She remembers herself as a small child visiting her grandmother, Oma, who tells Russo the family history with photos stretching back to Oma's youth and marriage before World War I. Children will need help to understand the multigenerational time frame and to keep track of who's who; in fact, the book may appeal more to adults than to young readers. But Russo personalizes the history with photo-album entries printed on the endpapers, and her gouache illustrations, framed like photos, show the individuality and strength of family members as they faced the Nazis who sought to destroy all Jews. Miraculously, Oma and her three daughters, two of whom were in the camps, survived to be reunited in the U.S. An afterword fills in some Holocaust history. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved