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review 2015-07-19 10:11
Jars of Hope: How One Woman Helped Save 2,500 Children During the Holocaust (Encounter: Narrative Nonfiction Picture Books) - Jennifer Roy,Meg Owenson

Received this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.

I have always been interested in WWII and what happened during that time, often it is truly heartbreaking, but also often it is filled with a sense of hope. Even when everything around them collapses, even when stuff seem to end in death, people tend to keep hope, hope for various things. Like hope to survive, to know that your children are safe, to hope that everything will end.. You will also see that in this book.

Irena, I am not sure if I ever heard of her, I probably did considering I read quite a few WWII books, was a great person. Instead of running away, instead of shying away from all that happened in the ghetto, she stuck close, helping out kids and family. Smuggling and taking them out of the ghetto, bringing them to safety and making sure that their new foster families would get money and food to take care of that extra mouth (because it is still the war, and one extra mouth can make a big difference in how much food there is for everyone).
Irena was an amazing person, even when she was caught she stayed silent, no matter how gruesome the torture (though since this is a children's book it is mostly toned down, but I am guessing that the nazis won't just have whipped her and do not much else.
I also loved that she kept in contact with the kids that she rescued, or at least a few. Amazing!

The story brought some tears to my eyes. Maybe I shouldn't have read this book so soon after I read another heartbreaking book, but I just couldn't wait to read this one.

The way the timeline jumps around was truly the only thing that I didn't like that much. I know this is a short book and they have to get the important stuff in it, but it just felt odd that we hopped around the years like that. At times it was confusing as things suddenly felt accelerated, I had to remind myself that a year did go past and so a lot of events will have happened that led to this one special event.

The illustrations are gorgeous and beautiful, mostly done in gloomy and dark colours to capture the war, the hopelessness that was happening in that time. It was great to see how Irena was drawn, at most times she seemed to be a beacon that lit up the place, the one to bring happiness and light around her. Showing people that there is still hope, that she will help.

All in all, this book is highly recommended. There is also a handy glossary near the end, so if there are words that kids don't know, they can just go to the end and check them out. I also loved that the author told us how things continued after the war (the story ends when Irena hides the lists). It gave a sense of closure and I am happy they did that. I would have rated the book lower if they had stopped at the hiding and didn't disclose any more information on how Irena was doing and what happened to the lists.

Review first posted at http://twirlingbookprincess.com/

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review 2014-12-29 16:45
I wanted to like this more.
Yellow Star - Jennifer Roy

The premise sounded better than its delivery.

 

The story is of the Lodz ghetto in Poland, and of the 270,000 Jews that were put in, only 800 survived.  12 were children, and Sylvia (the author's aunt) was one of them.  This is the retelling of her experience as a young child of 4 when the ghetto was established, and aged 10 when they were liberated. 

 

It's a fascinating premise, and if I retell it here, it makes a great story.  It's written in free verse, each line is 3-5 words, 8-10 lines per "paragraph" and maybe only 3 or 4 paragraphs per event.  Each event is told in chronological order, but are pretty disconnected, jumping from scene to scene.  There isn't much in the way of transition, just a string of memories and events.  Because it's told from a child's perspective, it struck me as very YA.  The book only took me about an hour to read because of the way it's written.  I think it would make a good introduction to WWII for a child who is mature to read about such things.  The YA-nature of the book was really unexpected for me, which is why I gave it the lower score.  If it was a bit meatier, I think I would have enjoyed it more.

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review 2013-05-06 00:00
Yellow Star - Jennifer Roy I liked how the book was all in verse.
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review 2013-05-06 00:00
Yellow Star
Yellow Star - Jennifer Roy I liked how the book was all in verse.
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review 2013-03-07 00:00
Yellow Star
Yellow Star - Jennifer Roy

"In 1945, the war ended. The Germans surrendered, and the ghetto (Lodz, Poland) was liberated. Out of more than a quarter of a million people, only about 800 walked out of the ghetto. Of those who survived, only twelve were children." This book is the story of one of these children. Syvia was in the ghetto from age 4 to the day before her 10th birthday.

 

This book was formatted in a kind of free verse. It reminded me of poetry. Poetry of life and of horror. I read it in one day, but I had to take several hours between readings. The imagery is sharp and even detailed. The verses are Syvia's remembrances and are particularly poignant as the voice of a child. You can see her growing up and wondering why, just because she is a Jew, she was hated so much.

 

One scene really was hard for me. She is walking by the fence in the ghetto and sees a lady step outside her house with her pet dog. Syvia tells us in her thoughts that even if someone got out of the fence and wasn't found and shot they still would have been turned in by this lady that treats her animals better than she would the people just a few feet away are who are being starved to death. Syvia also goes on thinking that she wished she could have a pet, but than she thinks that even if they were allowed, the pet would be killed for food.

 

I find it hard to read books about atrocities, but I know that we need to know the stories so that we can keep it from happening again. This book is an excellent way to teach children about this time in history. Highly recommended!

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