The Red Ribbon

Lucy Adling­ton

  • Review
By – August 7, 2018

Fash­ion his­to­ri­an Adling­ton has fic­tion­al­ized a lit­tle-known aspect of Holo­caust his­to­ry: the exis­tence of a sewing stu­dio at Auschwitz where twen­ty-three pris­on­ers worked.

Four­teen-year-old Ella has been in Birch­wood — a fic­tion­al con­cen­tra­tion camp based on Auschwitz-Birke­nau — for three weeks when she applies for a job at the camp’s Upper Tai­lor­ing Stu­dio. She quick­ly demon­strates her exem­plary skills, win­ning an impromp­tu com­pe­ti­tion to sew a dress for one of the guards. Sewing becomes Ella’s way to sur­vive. When she forms an attach­ment to fel­low stu­dio work­er Rose, they cre­ate an unbreak­able bond. This rela­tion­ship forms much of the narrative’s strength.

While back­mat­ter about the his­tor­i­cal facts that inspired the book would have been help­ful, the sto­ry is fascinating.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 12 and up.

Bar­bara Kras­ner is an award-win­ning poet and his­to­ri­an who focus­es her writ­ing on the Jew­ish expe­ri­ence in Amer­i­ca and dur­ing the Holo­caust. She teach­es in the his­to­ry depart­ment of The Col­lege of New Jer­sey and serves as Direc­tor, Mer­cer Holo­caust, Geno­cide & Human Rights Edu­ca­tion Center.

Discussion Questions