Friday, May 22, 2015

Jars of Hope by Jennifer Roy

This book is set to be released on August 1, 2015 from Capstone Young Readers. It is a picture book biography of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who, as a member of the secret organization known as Zegota, helped over two thousand Jewish children escape the Warsaw Ghetto during the years of Nazi occupation. Below is a one-paragraph product description provided on Netgalley. Below that is my review of the book.

Amid the horrors of World War II, Irena Sendler was an unlikely and unsung hero. While many people lived in fear of the Nazis, Irena defied them, even though it could have meant her life. She kept records of the children she helped smuggle away from the Nazis’ grasp, and when she feared her work might be discovered, she buried her lists in jars, hoping to someday recover them and reunite children with their parents. This gripping true story of a woman who took it upon herself to help save 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust is not only inspirational; it's unforgettable.
For ages 9-12
* Dramatic and sophisticated picture book for older audiences
* Inspirational and true story of a strong female hero
* Award-winning author of Yellow Star
* A gentler introduction to the Holocaust

Jars of HopeJars of Hope by Jennifer Roy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story of Irena Sendler, while not entirely untold, is certainly not one that springs to the average American mind when discussing Holocaust and pre-Holocaust occupation of Central Europe, yet it seems like it should. The comparison that springs to mind for me at least is to that of the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman in the years that led to the American Civil War. While the Holocaust and American slavery are not the same thing, the idea of a secretly organized group of people helping an oppressed people to escape from the oppressive situation seems almost identical. The reason that I draw that comparison is that the Underground Railroad is so well documented in children's literature and even in our school curriculum, yet this group, the Zegota, and many other resistance movements that formed to counteract Nazi occupation in WWII basically remain unknown to most Americans despite interest in WWII and the Holocaust being comparable to the Civil War and slavery.

Though brief, this book does a good job of describing the ingenious methods that Sendler and the Zegota developed for extracting children from the Warsaw Ghetto and the great lengths that she went to in order to preserve a sense of history for the children that were extracted. Jars of Hope refers to the fact that Sendler used buried jars to store secret information about the children she helped to escape; information that she later used to reunite some of those children with their families.

This was an inspiring read, one that revealed a part of WWII history that is otherwise little known. This would be a good book to pair with Irena Sendler And The Children Of The Warsaw Ghetto. Both books are engaging and present Sendler's story in a slightly different way. Readers of one book would certainly appreciate the other. This book was a pleasure to read.

-Early copy of this book provided by Netgalley

View all my reviews

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