Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Tanya Simon and Richard Simon
  • Review
By – December 17, 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.

Sarah Aron­son holds an MFA in Writ­ing for Chil­dren and Young Adults from Ver­mont Col­lege. She is a full time writer and has recent­ly pub­lished her first nov­el, Head Case (Roar­ing Brook) for young adults. Sara blogs every Thurs­day for the Lilith blog.

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