Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Roaring Brook Press  2015


The message of Oskar and the Eight Blessings—that even in bad times, people are good—may be gentle, but it is also heartfelt and full of hope. This picture book tells the story of a young boy, sent to Manhattan to find his aunt, following Kristallnacht, the night of Broken Glass. At the start of the story, he seems a bit broken, too. But as he walks up Broadway, he finds many reasons and people to give him hope, to believe in the generosity of the human spirit. He receives blessings. He gives them, too. The authors, in a note to the reader, share an inspirational quote by Victor Frankl. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Oskar makes this choice. And he succeeds. The ending of this story is a true new beginning.

Siegel uses a muted palate to illustrate the diversity of New York City’s streets. Oskar has large, curious eyes. Notes, snowflakes and streetlights make the illustrations glitter. A map of Manhattan in December 1938 is included. This story will serve as a gentle introduction to a discussion about the Holocaust, the people who survived, and those that did not, but more important, a holiday blessing: that good still exists in every person and neighborhood.

Recommended for ages 4-8.

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