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Irena's Children: Young Readers Edition; A True Story of Courage Hardcover – September 27, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Irena Sendler, a righteous Gentile who rescued approximately 2,500 Jewish children in the Warsaw ghetto, is the focus of this volume. Sendler's father, a Catholic doctor who treated Jews others turned away, grew up speaking Yiddish with close Jewish friends. Her senior role at a government agency positioned her to offer help following the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland. Sendler and an inner circle of trusted friends, Jewish and Christian alike, used creative means to spirit Jewish children away to safety in orphanages and foster homes. Tortured by the Nazis, she gave up no secrets, keeping the children and her network safe. While the book is strong on general historical context, featuring descriptions of socioeconomic divisions among Jews in occupied Warsaw, it suffers from the wartime loss of direct historical evidence. Many of the individuals portrayed—Sendler included—do not feel fully fleshed out, making the narrative somewhat confusing and lessening the emotional impact. This is a story better suited to shorter treatments, such as Marcia Vaughan's Irena's Jars of Secrets. More readable, engaging volumes on similar individuals exist, such as Irene Gut Opdyke's In My Hands and Alison Leslie Gold's A Special Fate. VERDICT Purchase where there is a high demand for Holocaust nonfiction.—Laura Simeon, Open Window School Library, WA
“Farrell’s adaptation of Mazzeo’s adult title (2016) clearly presents [Irena Sendler’s] life and the ever present reality of death in a sobering, heartbreaking narrative. Readers will understand how Sendler came to be honored by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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So who should read this Young Reader’s version? Any and all adults, especially those parents and teachers whose children will be reading it. And as for those children reading it, I think it best suited to readers 12+ due to the intense nature of the subject matter. It’s definitely a book that should be discussed and the historical background explored for a fuller understanding of its topic.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author, Mary Cronk Farrell. Mary is also a friend of mine, but that in no way influenced my review. Mary always has and always will tackle hard topics with skill and finesse.
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