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Forging Freedom: A True Story of Heroism During The Holocaust Hardcover – October 9, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chronicling the daring wartime activities of a Dutch friend and neighbor, Talbott (We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story) overcomes a mildly strained narrative by virtue of his freshly conceived and powerfully rendered paintings. The story itself commands attention. Jaap Penraat is barely out of his teens when the Nazis invade Holland, and almost as soon as the Nazi persecution of the Jews begins, Jaap begins counterfeiting identity cards and other documents for his Jewish friends. In 1942 he hatches and executes a stunning plan: he forges a series of papers so he can pass as an official of a German construction company, then applies for official travel permits to bring Dutch "workers" (in fact Jews) to a phony job site in France, from which point they can be smuggled to Spain and other safe harbors. In this way Jaap and a partner save more than 400 people before they halt their operation in May 1944. Talbott saddles this real-life drama with slightly didactic exposition, and his prose is uneven ("Books held a special place in the hearts of the people of Holland"). But his illustrations pack a wallop, incorporating Jaap's forgeries and other documents in full-spread compositions, generous spot art and occasional borders. Depicting throngs of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers, for example, Talbott uses indistinct gray tones to imply the crowd mentality and reserves color for resisters like Jaap. His art revitalizes the traditional images of the war to home in on the individuality and vulnerability of its heroes and its victims. Ages 7-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7-Throughout his life, Jaap Penraat had Jewish friends. When the Germans occupied Holland in 1940, it seemed reasonable that he do whatever he could do to help them. Trained as an artist and architect, he began forging ID cards, moving quickly on to permits and exemption papers. Later he employed Jews in a small company making religious statues. Two months in jail reinforced the man's determination to work against the Nazi relocation campaign, and he concocted a plan to smuggle a group of people out of the country. He eventually helped 406 people escape. This compelling biography describes how the boy who, according to a neighbor, liked doing mitzvahs, became a man whose heroism was later honored by the Dutch government and by the Israeli Holocaust Heroes and Martyrs' Remembrance Authority. The author's personal connection to and affection for Penraat is evident in the warmth of his descriptions. Unfortunately, much of the story is told through unattributed or fictionalized dialogue, and while the imagined conversations have the ring of truth, they are not supported by any documentation. Competent watercolors and pictures of forged documents lend some authenticity, but today's young readers have come to expect explicit sources for factual accounts. General statements and information presented only on the jacket are insufficient.
Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 and up
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (October 9, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399234349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399234347
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read forging freedom during the war unit in my eighth grade english class. i thought it was a great book, and a great amount of infomation of how the jews were treated during halocost. after reading it i was amazed of how brave Jaab was and how clever he was. when my teacher told me that Jaab and Hudson were coming to my school, I was amazed. they were great guys, and having jaab talk to us about it in person was amazing. i also found out that jaab lived in the same town as me, all those times i had a brave man in my backyard and had no idea. this book was great and should be read by all ages so they can learn that brave people do exist and that the halocost was a very dangerous time and also a cruel time.
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A Kid's Review on February 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Forging Freedom is a wonderful book. I have always hated reading about the Holocaust, but I loved reading Forging Freedom. This book is exciting, descriptive, and it really informs you about what it was like to be a Jew in Amsterdam during the 1940s. I think it is a great book for kids of all ages. I recommend this book to kids who want to read a nonfiction book that is easy to read, interesting, and concise.Forging Freedom is about a man named Jaap in Amsterdam during the 1940s. Even though he was not a Jew he risked his life to save his Jewish friends and neighbors. By the end of the War, he had saved over 400 lives.
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Format: Hardcover
"Forging Freedom" impresses me with its factual account of Jewish people in the Netherlands suffering the terrifying power of Adolph Hitler in 1940. Here the impact of Hudson Talbott's art is significant; using somber tones, sometimes in the style of educational graphics, he makes his points dramatically.

Jaap Penraat grew to manhood having friends who were Jewish. His early neighborly task of lighting the Sabbath lights for Jewish families in his apartment block was considered to be a "mitzvah" - a kindness, a deed done from the heart. Not much later his heart responded to the terrible needs of hundreds of people in Amsterdam: for food, clothes, places to hide. There were few who understood the fate of those who were rounded up & taken away in boxcars.

But Jaap rushed ahead to devise a plan, falsifying passports & permits, and then brashly playing the role of transport leader so that a group of young men could be guided to "jobs of national importance" in the German defense industry - - when in reality they were being passed along an underground network from Holland through Belgium & France, to freedom in Spain & England.

At parting, Jaap and his childhood friend & refugee, Bram Dorland, gave each other the same message: "L'chaim" . . . "To Life".

There is a surprising immediacy in the way Talbott's message is conveyed. He could not be old enough to have a personal consciousness of that time. "Forging Freedom" published in 2000, tells its story hoping there is alsways another generation to teach the next the moral necessity of standing up for what is right. The fact that the bold courage of Jaap Penraat was recognized as a heroic by both the Dutch government and a Holocaust Commission backs up the authenticity to mcHAIKU's satisfaction. The important fact is that we must never forget.
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