Raoul Wallenberg, born in a town near Stockholm, Sweden in 1912, came from a distinguished family who took pride in its heritage and was highly admired for its generous contribution to Swedish society. Although Raoul’s father died when he was a baby, Raoul inherited his passion for drawing and art; his grandfather wanted him to be a citizen of the world and sent him to college in America where he excelled in architecture. Back in Europe, war broke out with Hitler in command and Wallenberg had difficulty finding a job. His gift for languages led him to work as an export-import trade representative traveling around Europe. While traveling to Hungary, he watched as Jews in Budapest began to lose their rights; they were forced to give up their radios and bicycles and to sew a yellow star on their clothing, then later, systematically rounded up and led to concentration camps. Wallenberg’s eyewitness accounts of the Nazi brutality and his strong moral convictions inspired him to do what he could to try to help the Jews. Assigned to the neutral Swedish legation in Budapest, Wallenberg had the perfect cover to act. He hired a network of trusted workers and organized a unique set of documents call shutzpass which would, he hoped, pass as documentation to protect the Hungarian Jews. Always at risk of being found out, Raoul Wallenberg showed great courage and took great risks to save the lives of over ten thousand Jews. Telling the story in free verse, acclaimed writer Louise Borden has traveled all over the world to retrace Raoul Wallenberg’s past and actually became friends with his last remaining family members. Her simple yet elegant prose succinctly captures the extraordinary life of a special hero and is supplemented by clear black and white photographs, maps and documents that are carefully arranged throughout the text. Complete notes, index and bibliography make this a useful resource. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Debra Gold has been a children’s librarian for over 20 years in the Cuyahoga County Public Library System. An active member of the ALA, she has served on many committees including the Caldecott, Newbery and Batchelder committees.