by Deborah Hodge
Tundra Books, 2014
Rescuing the Children: The Story of the Kindertransport explains the history of the Kindertransport, a short-lived effort to move Jewish children out of Nazi-occupied areas at the onset of World War Two. The text succeeds at recognizing and celebrating that nearly ten thousand children escaped persecution and that many lived accomplished lives despite being ripped from their families and subsequently discovering the many horrors of the Holocaust.
This is an important, sensitive book for young readers. World War Two ended more than seventy years ago, and the name Adolf Hitler is not nearly as frightening today as it was to my generation. Rescuing the Children presents the history of this aspect of the war clearly, without being unnecessarily dramatic or graphic. It provides some context for understanding the rise of the Nazis and the persecution of the Jews. More importantly, it makes the abstract concept of the long-ago Kinder real by introducing eight specific children, complete with photographs and stories told in their own words.
Although this is a book for elementary-school–aged children, there is an afterword intended for adult readers to guide younger readers. The Holocaust is a difficult event to explain to anyone, especially young readers encountering it through the eyes of other children, and the resource list is a welcome, helpful addition to the text.
I was really struck by this book. It’s small and colourful, yet its subject hit me hard. My only quibble with the book is the treatment of the art. There are powerful images included here that, for various reasons, are sometimes quite small in their presentation. Readers can pursue these images separately if they wish, however. The overall range of images is impressive, and the design is thoughtful and balanced.
I recommend this book for school and public libraries and for classroom purchase. It provides age-appropriate resources for readers and could support a variety of learning activities. It may be an appropriate volume in some home libraries as well. Librarians, teachers, and parents will need to be prepared to answer the difficult, and perhaps unanswerable, question, How did this happen? I hope a new generation of readers will be moved by this text to renew our human promise that something like the Holocaust must never happen again.
Originally published on LibraryThing on October 20, 2012.