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Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps Paperback – September 17, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Through the words and memories of Jack Mandelbaum, Warren presents a harrowing account of a Jewish boy's experience in Nazi prison camps. Mandelbaum had lived a comfortable life with his family in Gdynia, Poland, until the German invasion forced them to flee to a relative's village in 1939. Later, when the Jews were sent to concentration camps, the 12-year-old became separated from the rest of his family and wound up in the Blechhammer camp. By describing events through the boy's voice, the author does an excellent job of letting his words carry the power of the story. She avoids historical analysis, sticking to Mandelbaum's experiences, and brings readers into the nightmarish world of the concentration camp with a strong feeling of immediacy. As with many stories of great suffering, some of the minor details, such as risking death to steal a jar of marmalade, deliver the most impact. Besides the physical hardship, Warren conveys how frustrating and confusing it was for a child in such an environment. Once liberated, the young man learned the sad fate of his family and as he ironically observed, had he known his parents and siblings would not survive, he might not have struggled so hard to live himself. Black-and-white contemporary photographs illustrate the book. This story works as an introduction to the Holocaust and will also interest readers of Lila Perl's Four Perfect Pebbles (Greenwillow, 1996), Anne Frank's diary, and other works on the period.
Steven Engelfried, Deschutes County Library, Bend, OR
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-10. Simply told, Warren's powerful story blends the personal testimony of Holocaust survivor Jack Mandelbaum with the history of his time, documented by stirring photos from the archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Mandelbaum was 12 when the Nazis came to Poland in 1939. At first the thought of war was "thrilling." Then he saw his prosperous, happy home torn apart, and he spent three years as a teenager in the death camps in Germany, where he survived by a combination of courage, friendship, and luck. Warren, who never knew any Jews when she was growing up in a small Nebraska town, brings both passion and the distance of the outsider to the story. True to Mandelbaum's youthful viewpoint, she lets the story unfold slowly so readers don't know until the end what happened to Jack's mother and brother after they were separated, or whether his friends survived. The combination of Mandelbaum's experience and Warren's reporting of the whole picture makes this an excellent introduction for readers who don't know much about the history. There's only one false note. Unlike Anita Lobel's No Pretty Pictures (1998) and many other personal accounts, there's a radiant innocence here: everything "before" was blissful ("It was a lovely life"), and, even in the camps, Jack never has an ugly thought. The design is open and inviting with clear type, many photos, and an excellent multimedia bibliography. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060007672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060007676
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrea Warren is a native Nebraskan who has called Kansas home since 1979. Her seven books of nonfiction for young readers include "Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story"; "We Rode the Orphan Trains"; "Pioneer Girl: A True Story of Growing Up on the Prairie"; "Escape From Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy"; "Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps"; "Under Siege! Three Children at the Civil War Battle for Vicksburg," and "Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London." She is at work on a new book that will be released soon.

Warren's books have won a long list of honors, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award,the William Allen White Award, and the Robert F. Sibert Honor Award.

Warren says, "I write true stories about young people caught up in dramatic events. It's an interesting way to learn about history. Readers identify with my main characters and ask themselves, 'If that had been me, what would I have done?'"

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By tailin on December 13, 2006
Format: Library Binding
Imagine urinating in the same cup you eat in. Imagine feeling fleas crawling all over you and sick people coughing on you. It doesn't exactly sound pleasant but that is the lifestyle the concentration camp prisoners had to go through. The book, Surviving Hitler, is a memorable and sad memoir that focuses on The Holocaust during World War 2. The book has a moving story, and a powerful message that has truly put a different perspective in my eyes on how crule people can be and how understanding people have to be.

This book is about a boy named Jack, who is a very fortunate Jewish boy living in Europe. Jack and his family move in with his uncle who lives in a nearby town. Jack's father stayed behind to get organized and then he would meet up with them after. He had to close up his shop, sell his place, and pack up the big furniture. Unfortunately, before he could meet his family he was put into a concentration camp. Three years later Jack is working and supporting his mom and little brother while his sister, Jadiza, goes to their Aunt and Uncles house to help them with aetheir new baby. Hitler's soldiers invade the town they are living in and later group all the Jewish families into the town square to send them to concentration camps. Jack gets separated from his family and starts a whole different life in the concentration camps. He learns to survive on his own and take what he can get. It is a very rough experience for him, and you have to read the book to see the outcome.

I really enjoyed how the author put black and white photographs in this sad but true story because it really helps you imaging the living conditions back then. The structure of the book is not terribly long, making it an easy read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book clearly describes the daily life in death camps.I will recommand this to readers who have just started learning about the holocaust.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tammy on June 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is written for anyone who wishes to learn more about concentration camps and conditions during World War II in general. I had been taught the factual information and read the famous Anne Frank novel, but this book was a real eye opener. I had no idea how well planned the concentration camps of World War II really were. The fact that the prisoners in most labor camps had triangles denoting their reason for being there whether they were criminals, practiced a religion Hitler opposed, or other social delinquents showed a more sophisticated system than I had fathomed. The concentration camps were a very lucrative business and it is easy to see why when the prisoners are worked all day, fed almost nothing, save the bread filled with sawdust, and rated on the worth of their labor. Jack Mandelbaum is a perfect main character. His hard work and winning personality traits make it easy to see why he managed to stay alive. He has such a positive attitude and strength unimaginable that I don't think God himself could allow him to perish in a camp. Jack's mother is a bit impractical during the war as she still wears high heels in a time when some went without shoes. However, she may have been instrumental in Jack getting his Nazi working papers that in the end saved him from being sent directly to the gas chambers. There is a bright spot in the book when Jack meets and becomes friends with another Jewish prisoner, Moniek. They help to sustain each other and are most likely drawn to each other because of their positive outlook in such a dire situation. This book would be a wonderful novel to be read aloud in a Social Studies or Language Arts class studying the war.Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Donna McKeen on September 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
I haven't read the book, but my 11 year old checked it out at school. He was hooked on the story from the beginning.
However, I was surprised when he asked me "Mom, what is a homosexual?" He said that homosexuals were singled out to be victimized. He also
was upset about how children, especially those with disabilities were tortured and murdered.
I appreciate all the positive reviews here, but it really opened up a lot of issues for my son. Might be better suited to older children.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Latus on July 7, 2001
Format: Library Binding
This book follows a young man readers can relate to as he endures the terror of being rounded up, of being ripped from his family and then surviving in a death camp. You can smell it, you can understand his fear, you can feel his bewildered relief at surviving. Much of what is depicted is stark and painful, although it is written clearly and without sensationalism (really, the events are so sensational, they don't need to be amplified.) Even as an adult, I got a visceral, gut-wrenching feel for this boy's experience. I recommend parents read this along with their child and be prepared for important discussions. Lest I scare someone off, let me clarify that it is not too harsh for a pre-teen or teen reader. It's just bound to bring up strong feelings and discussion-inspiring questions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
I teach 4th grade and believe in being honest with my kids. In order to understand the world they live in, they need to understand past events. History has a way of repeating itself. My kids were very interested in the this aspect of WWII after reading Number the Stars. This biography is a neat tie-in to the historical fictional piece.
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