In this outstanding book are displayed 36 embroidered pictures that the author began at the age of 50, to illustrate the stories of her childhood in Poland and her survival during the Holocaust. When she died at the age of 74, she wasn’t finished, but she left this remarkable book. Her daughter Bernice used her mother’s comments to write the text. It is amazing how much Esther remembered, which is evidenced in the intricate details and vibrant colors of the needlework. Each full-page picture is framed in a different color, with Esther’s comments under it and the text on the opposite page. The deceptively simple pictures have the look of folk art in contrast to a grimly realistic story. At the end, there is a poignant page titled “To Germany,” where Esther has joined the Polish Army in March 1945 and she shows us in it what she remembers so many years later: seeing Nazi officers hanging from every tree as they passed along the road of an earlier battle with the Russians on their way to Berlin. The last frame shows Esther landing at Ellis Island, viewing the Statue of Liberty. She was very excited, because she felt that this meant she would never again be persecuted for being Jewish. Her daughter Bernice calls this a memorial to her mother’s family, because of them all, only Esther and a sister survived the war. Esther’s daughters Bernice and her sister have founded a nonprofit educational organization called Art and Remembrance, which is dedicated to using the power of story and art to illuminate the effects of war, intolerance, and social injustice. This book is highly recommended for all collections, as Esther’s story brings these terrible times alive in a way that adds a different dimension to children’s understanding of the Holocaust. For ages 12 – adult.
Andrea Davidson is the librarian of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, Ohio. She holds an M.L.S. from the University of Michigan and is a former member of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards Committee. She enjoys trying out the books she reviews on the kids at the Temple and on her grandchildren.