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Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust Paperback – September 1, 1989


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Grade Level: 1 and up
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: The Jewish Publication Society; Revised edition (September 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827605072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827605077
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is an excellent book for sensitizing young people of any denomination to recognize injustice.”—Church & Synagogue Libraries
(Church & Synagogue Libraries)

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Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book for older students and adults.
jP
A wonderful allegory using animals to explain to children the effect of terrible things like a Holocaust which happen to innocent people.
Nancy R. Katz
This is a well crafted children's book, great for introducing the difficult topic to the holocaust.
Lsulli10

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was curious to see how Eve Bunting would turn the Holocaust into an allegory appropriate for young children, but as soon as I started reading "Terrible Things" the inspiration for her story became clear. The Terrible Things first come to the forest for every creature with feathers on its back. The frogs, squirrels, and other animals quickly declare that they do not have feathers, that the forest is better without the birds, and that they are all glad that it was not them that the Terrible Things wanted.
Clearly Eve Bunting takes her text from the famous statement attributed to Martin Niemoeller. If I remember correctly Niemoeller was a pastor. He told about how in Germany the Nazis first came for the Communists, but since he was not a Communist he did not speak up. Then they came for the Jews, but again he did not speak up because he was not a Jew. The same rationale explained his silence when they came for the trade unionists and Catholics. "Then they came for me," Niemoeller said, "and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Niemoeller's words might be the most famous declaration about the Holocaust and its appropriateness for being the basis of an allegory for young children should be self-evident. Bunting is not talking as much about the mass exterminations by the Nazis as she is about the culpability of the ordinary citizens who looked the other way when terrible things happened in Germany. The rhetorical question Bunting asks is "If everybody had stood together at the first sign of evil would this have happened?" If young children do not know the answer to that question before they read "Terrible Things," they certainly will afterwards.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The Holocaust is an event so vast in the scope of its horror that it can be hard for anyone, let alone a child, to understand how it happened. Eve Bunting's The Terrible Things uses an allegory of forest animals to help children (and, frankly, adults) grasp how it is that ordinary people like themselves and people they know could have allowed the Holocuast to happen.
While it does not deal directly with the Holocuast itself, The Terrible Things does deal with the fear and shifting of responsibility that allowed it and similar events to happen. In the book "The Terrible Things" (which are never pictured concretely in illustrations) come for one after another group of forest animals while those not included in the roundup do nothing, until - of course - there are none left.
This book is clear and understandable but not frightening or disturbing. Indeed, it is a picture book much like any other children's picture book. Hence, I wouldn't worry about introducing it to elementary age students. In fact, this book would probably be my top choice for an initial introduction to the Holocaust.
This book also carries a poignant message about integrity and responsibility to persons of any age. Eve Bunting artfully captures the essence of what John Donne meant in writing "no man is an island." She also helps us to comprehend what is most incomprhensible: one of the reasons decent people allowed the evil of the Holocaust to go on.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By DeeDee Fox VINE VOICE on July 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Truth is sometimes a difficult pill to swallow. This book about forest creatures who are taken away, one species at a time, by the "Terrible Things," teaches a valuable lesson. The white rabbits think it is better not to say anything, so long as it is not their species that is being taken. Ultimately, the white rabbits are also taken. The little white rabbit who has questioned the circumstances of the other forest animals being taken, comes to the realization that he should have done something earlier. But sadly, he realizes at the end of the story that he waited too long and now it is too late to do anything about it.

This book has some valuable messages, but it would definitely not be considered light reading. In the right setting, when a parent, or teacher, is prepared to discuss the topic at great length, this book can go a long way in preparing young minds to make decisions on their own and to question when things don't seem right. It can also be a valuable tool in helping children understand how the atrocities of the holocaust came to be.

~DeeDee Fox, author and illustrator, The Ruby Red Slippers
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Nancy R. Katz VINE VOICE on January 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Terrible Things by Eve Bunting is one of the best children's books I've read which addressed the Holocaust during WWII. A wonderful allegory using animals to explain to children the effect of terrible things like a Holocaust which happen to innocent people. Systematically different groups of animals are terrorized and removed from a clearing area in a forest. But the ones who are left say the ones who were removed were annoying. Then later they begin to say and think they are better then the rest till they are also removed.

There is a wonderful poem written by Pastor Neirmueller about the Holocaust which ends, "When they came for me, there was nobody left to speak up for me." This reminded me so much of the book Terrible Things and I highly recommend this as a teaching tool for children when discussing the various Holocausts which have occurred all over the world.
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