Several years ago, I had the pleasure of reading Whiteman’s compelling story of survival: Escape Via Siberia: A Jewish Child’s Odyssey of Survival (Holmes and Meir, 1999). Through the story of one boy — Eliott “Lonek” Jaroslawicz — she conveyed the tale of the dramatic escape of thousands of Polish Jews who fled eastward from the Nazi onslaught into Russia. At that time, a shortlived treaty between the Polish governmentin- exile and the Soviet government allowed for the release of approximately 100,000 Polish citizens, including Lonek’s family. After making their way from Siberia to Tashkent, where Lonek’s mother is finally forced to leave her 10-year old son on the doorstep of an orphanage, Lonek finds himself to be one of the more than 900 Jewish children known as “the Teheran Children.”
While reading that book, I remember thinking what a marvelous book this would be for families to discuss the Holocaust; if only there was a children’s version as well. And here it is! Fortunately, Whiteman has done the adaptation herself, so it remains faithful to the original story and gracefully written. The children’s version covers Lonek’s two-year journey over thousands of miles by land and sea to find freedom in Palestine. It is a little-known true story that every Jewish family would benefit from reading — both versions — and discussing. Maps and black and white photographs throughout. For ages 8 – 12; children from 14 up can handle the adult version.