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Grade 3-5–Set in Warsaw in 1942, this picture book brings to life a little-known incident of Jewish resistance. A young girl who has escaped the Ghetto lives with her older sister who, with friends, plans to smuggle food to those still there. Somehow the Gestapo has heard of the plan and has designs of its own–dogs to sniff out the bundles of food arriving with the resisters on a train. With quick thinking, the friends gather all of the cats living in Krasinski Square into baskets and head for the station. Just as the train pulls in, the felines are let loose, the dogs chase the cats, chaos erupts, and eventually the contraband is passed through the chinks in the Ghetto wall. Illustrated by Watson in an arresting departure from her usual style in muted tans, browns, and oranges, the cats, the people, the buildings of Warsaw, and even the snarling dogs are bathed in a warm yellow light–a kind of innocent luminescence of hope that belies the evil that is being done. The play of light and the naturalness of the cats' poses are almost a comfort in a story that adults sense as keenly distressing, and that beckons for adult interpretation or guidance. What is clear is the immediate poignancy of these cats and the author's evocative language in describing them: "They belonged once to someone. They slept on sofa cushions… they purred… nuzzling the chins of their beloveds." They could be the Polish Jewry of the Warsaw Ghetto.–Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 2-5. In luminous free verse, Hesse's latest picture book tells a powerful story of a young Jewish girl who, together with her older sister, ingeniously fights the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. After escaping from the Jewish ghetto, the girl avoids detection: "I wear my Polish look, / I walk my Polish walk. / Polish words float from my lips / and I am almost safe, / almost invisible." She finds joy in playing with the city's abandoned cats, who show her holes in the ghetto wall, which the girl's older sister and their resistance friends will use to pass supplies shipped by train to Warsaw. The Gestapo learns of the scheme, and soldiers wait at the train station with dogs. Luckily, the cats inspire a solution; they distract the dogs and protect the supplies. It's an empowering story about the bravery and impact of young people, and Hesse's clear, spare poetry, from the girl's viewpoint, refers to the hardships suffered without didacticism. In bold, black lines and washes of smoky gray and ochre, Watson's arresting images echo the pared-down language as well as the hope that shines like the glints of sunlight on Krasinski Square. An author's note references the true events and heartbreaking history that inspired this stirring, expertly crafted story. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Beautiful book filled with content! I use it grades 6-12 as a Read Aloud in World History classes to introduce the Russian Revolution.Published 3 months ago by Catherine B. Temple
This was a great story and I am using it as part of a text set to teach children about the Holocaust.Published 9 months ago by Kelly M.
A work of historical fiction based on real events that happened in Warsaw, Poland during World War II. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Shelli
It is a beautifully written and illustrated book I intend to read with my grand daughters.Published 13 months ago by Martha A. Demerly
This is just what I ordered.This is just what I wanted and I was lucky and happy to find it available from Amazon at a good price and brought right to my door!Published 16 months ago by garlic heart
This story is a hopeful escapade of resistance to tyranny.
It does a good job conveying the fear and helplessness of the time, while finding a clever way to outwit the... Read more
Another great book. I learned from this story. Wow! we need more literature like this to engage students in the classroom.Published on July 12, 2013 by robbi paynther
Writing about the Holocaust for young writers is a highly challenging task, even more so when the readers are very young children. Read morePublished on February 25, 2013 by Daniel L. Berek
This is a wonderful story, it appealed to me as a social studies teacher. I bought it for my grandcat who is a therapy cat. Read morePublished on January 24, 2013 by Jaci