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Greenhorn Hardcover – March 1, 2012
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"A book to be read by adult and child together." ―Kirkus Reviews
"Olswanger’s tale evinces a fine ear for the rough-and-tumble speech of city kids and an eye for detail." ―Publishers Weekly
"Daniel arrives at a yeshiva in Brooklyn in 1946, an orphan from the Holocaust. He carries a box with him everywhere, inviting the taunts and curiosity of his fellow students. When it’s revealed that the box contains soap made by the Nazis, who used human fat in their recipe, the young boys experience a life lesson in cruelty and faith that transcends their differences." ―Julie Eakin, ForeWord Reviews
"Anna Olswanger, author of the award-winning Shlemiel Crooks, handles the material deftly, allowing the loyal friendship of the two boys to set a redemptive tone, while Miriam Nerlove’s delicate watercolor illustrations evoke the vulnerability and sweetness of childhood, even as the text exposes the cruelty of which human beings are capable. Profoundly moving and filled with accurate historical detail, Greenhorn is an extraordinary book." ―Rebecca Migdal, Bank Street Books
"Quiet and deeply moving." ―Yael Levy, The Times of Israel
"How can such a slight book, a mere 48 pages, including the full page illustrations and an Afterword, convey such pathos, history, and emotion, while also providing an entrée into the study of the Holocaust and the meaning of Hillel’s dictum: “Do Unto Others . . .” but it does." ―Jewish Book World
"Anna Olswanger (Shlemiel Crooks, 2005) has crafted a marvelous Holocaust book for youth in Greenhorn. She carefully introduces the Shoah in a poignant and dramatic manner. Ms. Olswanger is to be commended for careful attention to detail required by any work of historical fiction. This book is enhanced further by the addition of many excellent illustrations, each one reflecting the sensory experiences of this unique environment. Greenhorn proffers a perfect launching point for a discussion of the Holocaust aimed at youthful learners." ―Charles Weinblatt, author of Jacob's Courage
"While the tale of Greenhorn will capture the imagination of your child and the illustrations by Miriam Nerlove are well-done and colorful, it teaches on the historical, cultural, moral, and personal level." ―Karen Kelly Boyce
"Greenhorn is a book that will fool you by its slight appearance, but the weight of its story will astonish you." ―Kathy Cowle, Blah, Blah, Blah Book Blog
"Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger is a powerful book. I think children will be very interested in the story, and it is a good way to open up a discussion with 9 to 12 year olds about the Holocaust and even racism today" ―Margo Dill, Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them!
"Greenhorn, a short middle grade novel by author and literary agent Anna Olswanger, is one amazing book. [It] is a worthy addition to literature dealing with the Holocaust." ―Project Mayhem
"A tiny novel with an enormous heart, Anna Olswanger’s Greenhorn poignantly illustrates the old adage that good and powerful things often come in the smallest packages." ―Susannah Felts, Chapter 16
"Greenhorn is a heart-warming story of two outsiders who become life-long friends. I highly recommend it." ―The Children's War
"The story would make a good addition to a unit on the Holocaust, and could easily be read aloud in a classroom or read by individual students and used for classroom or home discussion." ―Margo Tanenbaum, The Fourth Musketeer
"Anna Olswanger handles the horrors of WWII and more to the point, the Holocaust very well." ―Joe Hempel, Top of the Heap Reviews
"Perfect for boys although girls will absolutely want to read it also." ―Joyce Moyer Hostetter, The 3 R's - Reading, 'Riting & Research
"Greenhorn is a powerful book that should be in libraries everywhere." ―Robert Kent, Middle Grade Ninja
"Greenhorn is a story of friendship. love, and loyalty. The illustrations by Miriam Nerlove are tender and warm, a perfect pairing for the heartfelt story of a young boy and his friends. Books like Greenhorn will keep alive the memories of so many who were lost." ―Barbara Bietz, Jewish Books for Kids
"“Greenhorn” ought to be read by every reader, from middle grades on up to the most elder. Author Anna Olswanger has written a story that is both heartwrenching and heartwarming, based on actual events and real life personages, as she explains in the Afterword. This is not a story I’m ever going to forget." ―Mallory Anne-Marie Forbes, Mallory Heart Reviews
"An excellent resource for homeschooling parents wishing to teach their children about the Holocaust." ―Sara Ella, Sara Ella blog
"Using common aspects of middle school life – friendship, fitting in, and bullying – Anna Olswanger creates a familiar setting to introduce young readers to the horrors of the Holocaust. Miriam Nerlove’s warm illustrations portray life in the yeshiva with just the right touches of mood and presence. The back end glossary, plus the classroom and discussion guides found at Olswanger’s website enhance the book’s educational value. Above all, Greenhorn is a profoundly moving portrait of a painful part of human history." ―Advice from a Caterpillar
"Greenhorn is a powerful story of the horrors of the Holocaust, and the healing power of friendship." ―Games Fiends
"This is a remarkably rich and powerful book. It would be wonderful to use in a classroom as students could read it in its entirety in a couple of class periods. The world of a 1946 yeshiva is well drawn and very real." ―The Write Stuff
"Greenhorn is a tender, touching celebration of friendship, family, and faith. I must admit I cried at the horror and humanity of this simple story. Read it with your arms around someone you love." ―Karen Cushman, author of The Midwife’s Apprentice (winner of the 1996 Newbery Medal), Catherine, Called Birdy (a Newbery Honor book), and The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (winner of the John and Patricia Beatty Award)
"It's just a tin box with a piece of soap inside. Yet for Daniel it contains a whole world. And Greenhorn is a short, simple story that deserves a place with among the most distinguished works of Holocaust literature. I loved everything about this book, Miriam Nerlove's artwork was perfect." ―Eric A. Kimmel, author of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, a Newbery Honor Book, and The Golem's Latkes, winner of the National Jewish Book Award
"Greenhorn is both a heartwarming and heartrending story of friendship and tragedy in the aftermath of the Holocaust. I highly recommend it." ―David Adler, author of Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book for Nonfiction
"A story to read and discuss with young readers -- certain to get the conversation started on this difficult subject" ―Steve Sheinkin, author of The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery (Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction)
"Greenhorn poignantly captures the harsh reality of the disconnect between American Jews and their brothers and sisters victimized and murdered in the Holocaust. In this layered children's book, Olswanger reveals the deeper failure of America's Jews to come to the emotional rescue of the profoundly devastated Survivors after the Holocaust. Those that did, like Aaron, the speech challenged but not heart challenged youngster depicted in the book, restored for the Survivors their desperately needed faith in humanity. Thanks to the gracious ones, the survivors were able to rebuild their lives and the communities fortunate to be graced by them." ―Rabbi Meyer H. May, Executive Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center
"Greenhorn brings to colloquial life a chilling aspect of Jewish and world history that the world should not be allowed to forget." ―Paul Zelinsky, author of Rapunzel, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, and Swamp Angel, Caldecott Honor Books
"An easy read on a difficult subject and an excellent tool for teaching. Author Anna Olswanger handles the subject matter with grace." ―Marilyn Price, author of Grandma’s Cookies
"Olswanger’s sensitive story, based on real-life events, brings home the atrocities of Nazi-Germany as seen through the eyes of young religious Jews living in America during WWII. This short picture book offers a message of survival, renewal and hope." ―Anna Levine, author of Freefall (a Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner) and Jodie’s Hanukkah Dig (a Sidney Taylor Notable Award winner)
"In Greenhorn, Anna Olswanger not only captures the voices of the young yeshiva students living in Brooklyn in 1946 but also reveals what is in their hearts. In a few spare words, she tenderly develops the relationship between Aaron, a student who is teased because of his stuttering, and Daniel, a Holocaust survivor who desperately clings to a tin box carrying a precious secret. Never didactic, the story conveys a message about the healing power of friendship. Miriam Nerlove’s illustrations gently evoke the time and place." ―Ellen Schwartz, author of Stealing Home, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book
"Anna Olswanger takes a daring approach introducing young readers to the horrors of the Holocaust. The telling illustrations ease the painful subject." ―Amalia Hoffman, author of Purim Goodies and The Klezmer Bunch
"Greenhorn goes straight to your heart. Another poignant treasure from children's book author, Anna Olswanger, which clearly deserves to be another award-winner." ―Bracha Goetz, author of Let Your Fingers Do the Mitzvohs
About the Author
Anna Olswanger's Shlemiel Crooks (Junebug Books) is a Sydney Taylor Honor Book and PJ Library Book. In 2011 the Kaufman Center premiered a family musical based on Shlemiel Crooks at Merkin Hall in New York. Anna lives in the metro New York City area and is a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates. Her website is www.olswanger.com.
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Particularly artful is the presentation (again, via dialogue) of the tentative and incomplete understanding which the American-born students of the day had about the events of the just-concluded war in Europe, and its devastating effects upon the orphaned boys from Poland who had just arrived. Their mutual incomprehension, starkly clear in the early going, is gradually bridged as a New Jersey boy, Aaron, reaches out to Daniel, who has arrived from Poland with little more than the clothes on his back and a precious box.
Despite their differences, one factor which unites the two boys is a difficulty in expressing themselves. Daniel's reticence, it seems, may be a combination of a language barrier and perhaps lingering shock at the loss of his family, while Aaron stuggles with a speech impediment. Students coping with shyness or nervousness about public speaking will identify with and draw encouragement from the bond which forms between Aaron and Daniel.
Greenhorn is brought to a crisp ending with a surprise which has been foreshadowed earlier to alert readers. Then, a second surprise: the Afterword propels us 35 years forward, to a real-life encounter in Jerusalem which neatly ties a ribbon around the central prop of the story, Daniel's mysterious box.
If this sounds cinematic, it's intended to. Anna Olswanger's website, which is easy to find, reports that Greenhorn soon will be dramatized in a short film. Readers who enjoyed the book doubtless will want to learn more about its upcoming film version.
This was a well-written nonfiction story about a holocaust concentration camp survivor and the friend he makes in Aaron. But, it is also about so much more. The story is for middle grade readers but it is only 48 pages (with illustrations). The writing was solid and the story was incredible but I would have liked the story to be expanded into a full novel – it was that good and it would be better for kids my age to have more details/backstory. The book is based on a true story. Aaron is a real person (with a different name of course) and I think that I would’ve liked to have met the young Rabbi Rafael Grossman (AKA Aaron). The color illustrations were a nice addition to the story and went well with it. The history taught in the book and the message – is very important. I’d just love to see this as a novel. The publisher has a parent and teacher guide to go along with the story.
*NOTE* I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review