Review Blog

May 13 2015

Hanna: My Holocaust Story by Goldie Alexander

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My Holocaust Story series. Scholastic Australia, 2015. ISBN 9781743629673
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Poland, Holocaust, World War 11, Survival, Family Life, Courage. Only this afternoon Papa had warned us of the German threat to Poland. Now the Luftwaffe's bombs had succeeded in convincing us that everything was about to change.
Scholastic brings us a powerful and emotive new series, My Holocaust Story with strong girl protagonists, set against the horrors of World War II. Each book sold raises funds for the Courage to Care educational program, whose goal is to oppose injustice in the world.
Eleven years old Hanna Kaminsky enjoys her life in Warsaw, Poland, living in a large house with her mother, father, younger brother Adam and baby Ryzia. She loves gymnastics, spending time with her best friend Eva and reading. On one afternoon in September 1939 everything changes, as the Nazis invade Poland and all the Jewish families are pushed into ghettos.
Their loyal maid Elza risks her own life by hiding the family in her mother's farmhouse attic. With little food, freezing conditions and Mama and Ryzia forced to hide all the time, life is tough. Papa rises early to help with the farm work and Adam and Hannah help with the chickens and milk the cows. Goldie Alexander captures the hardships and realities of this life; she doesn't hide the difficult times. Hannah's love of reading, Adam's playing his imaginary violin and their secret forays into the forest lighten the mood.
Their capture and move to the ghetto are confronting and realistic, the stealing, gangs, fighting for food, underground schools, sickness and loss of life are presented openly and authentically. Hannah and Adam's final choices show their courage in adversity and present a hope for their future.
These stories need to be shared with a new generation of readers, they are powerful and confronting. They are important for older readers to develop an understanding of family life, courage and survival in times of war. Our political refugees in classrooms have similar stories to tell.
Rhyllis Bignell

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