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The Cats in Krasinski Square Hardcover – September 1, 2004
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From School Library Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
A girl sits on a heap of rubble surrounded by cats. It's Warsaw and the girl has escaped the Jewish ghetto to live hidden in plain sight with her sister. So many Jews had to leave their homes and abandon their pets, that the cats have no one to love them anymore. Says the girl, " `I have no food to spare'. The cats don't care". She loves them and that's all that they need at this time. Heading home again, the girl and her older sister are to participate in a plan to smuggle food to the people of the ghetto. Yet before they do they're told that the supplies coming in on the next train are in danger. Somehow the Gestapo have discovered the plan and are waiting with dogs at the station to sniff out the smugglers. It's the little girl who comes up with a way to lead the dogs astray and give the smugglers the chance they'll need to escape. And all thanks to a basketload of cats.
As an author, Hesse is probably better known for her verse novels than her picture books.Read more ›
This is a lyrical story based on a little-known WWII incident, in which "cats [outfoxed] the Gestapo" in Warsaw. In Hesse's version, a girl who has escaped the Warsaw Ghetto befriends the lonely, ownerless cats in Krasinski Square. When her friends in the Resistance despair of getting food to friends behind the Ghetto wall, the girl suggests that they use the cats to distract the Nazi's dogs. The ensuing mayhem allows them to sneak the food into the Ghetto.
The book is beautifully crafted. Hesse's signature spare style and Watson's understated drawings create a Holocaust story with a light touch. An end note provides context, explaining the incident itself and WWII in general.
This is a book that older readers, familiar with the Holocaust and the story of the Warsaw Ghetto, will appreciate. It does NOT make an appropriate introduction to Holocaust history for those unfamiliar with the subject.
The opening lines of the story set the scene, "The cats come from the cracks in the Wall, the dark corners, the openings in the rubble." The "Wall" is the wall around the Warsaw Ghetto. In 1939, the German Gestapo crowded Jews into this area of the city where the horrible conditions caused starvation, disease and death.
The young narrator of the story has escaped the ghetto and is "passing" as an Aryan on the other side of the wall. She fears for her friend Michal who is still inside the ghetto. Her sister, Mira is part of the Resistance and they have a plan to smuggle food to the people behind the wall. When the Germans find out about the plan and move to thwart it, the Resistance turns to the abandoned cats of the city to save the day and the food.
Wendy Watson's illustrations are lovely. Her style and color palette take us back to this time period. Seeing the pictures of the merry-go-round and the holes in the wall was especially evocative having just read Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli.
I can offer only
a gentle hand,
a tender voice.
They have no choice but to come.
They belonged once to someone.
They slept on sofa cushions
and ate from crystal dishes.
furrowing the chest,
nuzzling the chins of their beloveds.
Thus begins this amazing work by Karen Hess and illustrated by Wendy Watson. This story was taken from a small article the author read concerning the cats of the Warsaw Ghetto during the take-over by the German Army, April 1943. A young Jewish Girl and her sister have escaped the fate suffered by so many, only because they could pass for "Polish," and were able to avoid being confined to this area in Warsaw. They were able to smuggle food to those trapped on the other side. Having problems finding food for themselves, a plan was made to bring food in from outside the city. Somehow the Gestapo found out about these plans and made their own plans to capture those who were trying to bring the food in.
The young girl, her sister, and others gathered the now stray cats from Krasinski Square, secreted them in bundles and were waiting at the station when the smugglers brought the bundles of food into the station. At just the moment when the Gestapo closed in with their dogs, the people released the cats and in the pandemonium which followed the people were able to escape with their food bundles.
My goodness, what a lovely work, used to tell of such a horrible even in our history. The author's flawless use of simple free verse is most effective in this case. The artist's light, almost glowing use of the brush and color adds almost a surrealistic feel to such a dark event. To be frank, I cannot remember reading anything quite like this work.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great story, and I appreciate the history at the end of the book. I use this to supplement a unit on the Holocaust for 6th grade students.Published 7 months ago by D. Jacobs
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 13 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 19 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 20 months ago by Shelli
It is a beautifully written and illustrated book I intend to read with my grand daughters.Published 23 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 on May 20, 2014 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