It’s Her Sto­ry: Ire­na Sendler

  • Review
By – June 20, 2023

Pol­ish Catholic Ire­na Sendler and her friends were deter­mined to pro­tect their Jew­ish neigh­bors and acquain­tances from the unbear­able and unsafe con­di­tions the Nazi invaders were cre­at­ing. Allowed into the over­crowd­ed, dis­ease-rid­den War­saw Ghet­to as med­ical work­ers, Ire­na and her co-con­spir­a­tors smug­gled in food and med­i­cine. But the sit­u­a­tion wors­ened rapid­ly, and there was no res­o­lu­tion in sight. Ire­na and her net­work of helpers began to smug­gle chil­dren, many of them infants, out of the ghet­to. This graph­ic nov­el­’s mut­ed tones beau­ti­ful­ly por­trays the brav­ery and dan­ger that saved the lives of 2,500 War­saw Ghet­to chil­dren, who were often hid­den with Chris­t­ian fam­i­lies or in orphan­ages and monas­ter­ies. Zego­ta, the Pol­ish under­ground resis­tance, par­tic­i­pat­ed in these efforts. Ire­na kept records of the chil­dren’s real names and fam­i­lies, hop­ing that they might be reunit­ed after the war.

This engross­ing sto­ry and its evoca­tive art depict the exploits of one coura­geous young woman and the many oth­ers who risked every­thing to save children’s lives. It is an excel­lent way to teach kids about stead­fast behav­ior dur­ing fright­en­ing and dan­ger­ous times. Giv­en that the sto­ry is told real­is­ti­cal­ly, there are a few dis­turb­ing images that adults should be pre­pared to dis­cuss with young readers.

Award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and free­lance writer, Helen Weiss Pin­cus, has taught mem­oir writ­ing and cre­ative writ­ing through­out the NY Metro area to senior cit­i­zens and high school stu­dents. Her work has been pub­lished in The New York Times, The Record, The Jew­ish Stan­dard, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. She recent­ly added Bub­by” to her job description.

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