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The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List Paperback – August 18, 2015
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2013: For readers ages 11 and up, Leon Leyson’s remarkable memoir, The Boy on the Wooden Box, is the moving account of a happy childhood shattered by the Holocaust. Leyson was fortunate enough to survive, thanks largely to Oskar Schindler. As the youngest member of Schindler’s list, Leyson offers a unique perspective on the man who became his lifelong hero and his first-hand account of day-to-day existence in the factory--which did not alleviate the fear or deprivation--and his personal interaction with Schindler is powerful and special. The Boy on the Wooden Box is an important work, helping mature young readers understand the Holocaust through the life of a young person who lived it. --Seira Wilson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This powerful memoir of one of the youngest boys on Schindler’s list deserves to be shared. Leon Leyson grew up in Poland as the youngest of five children. As WWII breaks out, Leyson’s ingenuity and bravery, combined with the kindness of strangers and a bit of serendipity, save his life, time and again. The storytelling can at times meander, and the various reflections of his life in Poland during the war can result in a certain patchiness, but Leyson’s experiences and memories still make for compelling reading about what it was like to suffer through the Holocaust. This memoir is a natural curriculum addition to WWII units for upper-elementary- and middle-school readers. Be sure to have additional materials on hand about Oskar Schindler, as readers will want to do more research into Leyson’s story. Grades 4-7. --Sarah Bean Thompson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Leon (Leib) Leyson was born in 1930 to Moshe and Chanah Lejson in Narewka, Poland. Narewka is in the northeastern part of Poland near Bialystok. He was the youngest of five children. His oldest brother was Hershel; then Tsalig; his sister, Pesza; his brother, David; and finally, Leib. Their father worked in a glass factory which was later moved to Krakow. Their father went with the factory and only came home to Narewka once every six months. Hershel eventually went with his father but rarely came home as he preferred the city. Finally, Moshe had enough money to send for his family and they thus moved to Krakow.
When the war broke out, Moshe and Hershel headed back to Narewka thinking it would be safer for them back there. Chanah and the children stayed in Krakow. On the way, Moshe had second thoughts of leaving Chanah and returned to Krakow. Hershel continued on to Narewka. Moshe went to work for Schindler with David. Pesza went to work for an electrical factory near Schindler’s factory. Tsalig and Leib were left to try to find food for themselves and their mother. Tsalig and his girlfriend, Miriam, were taken in a raid and placed on a train to Belzac. Chanah and Leib were eventually taken separately to Plaszow. Here Leib was on his own. He did make contact with his Father and Mother but only briefly. His Father told him he would try to get Schindler to take them into his company. Eventually, Leib and Chanah were on the list of thirty Jews to be added to Schindler’s business. At the last minute, Leib’s name was crossed off the list.
The Lejson family survived under Schindler’s protection. They lost their brothers Hershel and Tsalig as well as numerous other family members. Three of Chanah’s four siblings moved to America before the war broke out. It was with their help that Leib and his parents finally came to California. Daniel and Pesza eventually migrated to Israel after separating from their family after the war.
Upon coming to America after the war, Leib (now Leon) eventually finished his education after being in the Army. He became a teacher and taught for 39 years. He eventually got his PHD as well as an honorary degree from Chapman University. It wasn’t until Schindler’s List came out that anyone knew he was a Holocaust survivor. It was then he began telling his story to any group who asked him. After raising a son and daughter and having six grandchildren, Leon died in January, 2013.
This book is excellently written and is one of the better memoirs written specifically with younger children in mind. However, due to the subject matter, I do not recommend it for anyone younger than middle school read it. However, it should be on the middle and junior high school shelves to be used in conjunction with Anne Frank. Various lesson plans and novel studies are available for this memoir.
This book should be required reading for all high school students. Not only in the United States, but in every nation which was involved in WWII, so that each new generation will always remember, and never again allow such wholesale slaughter of human beings.
The story itself was exceptionally well-written. Even while describing terrible atrocities he experienced as a boy, the author never let hatred control his narrative. He wrote in a fluid style, bringing to life his parents and his life in the Polish ghetto. Without resorting to hyperbolic descriptive phrases, he brings the reader into a terrifying mental picture of what he is going through in such a way that we feel the terrible helplessness and fear the author experienced as a young child, and at the end of the book we breathe a sigh of relief when we learn that he and his parents have survived the nightmare of the Holocaust and emigrated to the United States.