A fictionalized account of the life of a woman who, as an infant in 1944, was saved from the Holocaust when her parents threw her from the train carrying them to a concentration camp. Includes author's note about how she came to hear the true story.
From School Library Journal
Grade 3 Up-Vander Zee narrates this true story in the voice of Erika, a woman she encountered in a German village, who, as a blanket-wrapped infant, was thrown from a cattle car bound for a concentration camp in 1944. ("On her way to death, my mother threw me to life.") A German woman risked her own life to raise Erika, who eventually married and had children of her own. ("Today my tree once again has roots.") The spare, eloquent text perfectly complements Innocenti's gray and beige photo-realistic illustrations that show haunting, finely detailed, sterile winter scenes of train cars, tracks, and cold brick-and-stone buildings surrounded by barbed wire. On other pages, a white baby carriage and the small pink bundle catch the eye. Only the contemporary opening scene and the final postwar spread are in full color. Compelling and powerful in its simplicity, Erika's story proves that determination, hope, and goodness can overcome evil. Stars are important to this story. Yellow Stars of David are visible on the people's clothing and the symbol appears on every page, separating Erika's thoughts. She mentions God's biblical promise to Abraham that his people "would be as many as the stars in the heavens," and that "six million of those stars fell between 1933 and 1945." The large die-cut yellow pentagram on the front cover is a jarring exception to the carefully crafted text and illustrations. This poignant story of survival deserves a wide audience.
Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Gr. 3-6. "My mother threw me from the train." A Jewish woman in Germany today tells how, as an infant, she survived the Holocaust after she was thrown from a train on its way to the camps in 1944 and was taken in and raised by a village woman. The survivor imagines her parents in the ghetto and transports. Did they hold her close and kiss her before throwing her away to save her life? Innocenti, who did the Holocaust picture book Rose Blanche (1991), dramatizes the horror in amazingly detailed photo-like illustrations with an overlay of surreal imagery: a small baby carriage stands on the platform as the Jews are being loaded into the cattle cars; wrapped in bright pink, a baby flies through the air as the train hurtles through pastoral landscapes. The clear, tiny details dramatize both the fragility and the endurance of the infant survivor, as well as the bizarre calm of the "normal" world. Is the woman's story true? The experience is certainly known to have happened to some babies. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.