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Warren, Andrea.
New York : HarperCollins, 2001.
IL 5-8, RL 6.3
ISBN 0060292180

(2 booktalks)

 Booktalk #1

                      Many of us have heard about World War II and the Holocaust. In this story Surviving Hitler we meet young Jack Mandelbaum. As we follow Jack through the next four years we learn about the hardships inside the Nazi concentration camps. Although you may have read some of this history in your textbooks this book will open your eyes to the people who either died or survived this horrible time in our recent history.
                    Would you have the strength and courage to be like Jack? Read his memorable story. (Roberta Dwelley,,  Murray LaSaine Elementary)

Booktalk #2

Growing up with a rather idyllic childhood in a close, loving family with a mother whom he adored and wealth enough for his family to live an easy life, Jack Mandelbaum had no idea of what World War II and Hitler’s invasion of Gydnia ,Poland , his home town, would bring into his life. His initial conception of war as “thrilling” quickly changed when his father had to send his family away to his father’s home three hundred miles away where he felt they would be safe. Though twelve-year-old Jack protested leaving his father behind, he took seriously the charge to take care of the family in his father’s absence. As the war escalated and the Nazis passed more and more laws to restrict the freedoms of the Jews, Jack’s family had a harder time of surviving, even with the help of relatives, living in lice-infested, unsanitary conditions and often going hungry because of the increasing difficulty of obtaining food. To help earn a little money, Jack made himself a “substitute” for those who were supposed to go with forced day-labor crews to clear roads and do other backbreaking jobs that the Nazis considered beneath them. Before long, Jack and his family were rounded up and deported. When Jack realized that the Nazis were separating the weaker from the able-bodied people, he stepped up to a guard, identified himself as an electrician’s assistant and asked that he and his mother and brother be put in the other line to work. “It was the worst moment of my life,” Jack said. “It never entered my mind they would take me away from them.” But they did. Through his three years in not one but several concentration camps, Jack experienced unspeakable hardships, but he also made some important friends who made it possible for Jack to learn survival skills. He also thought constantly of his family and told himself early on, “Whatever this place was, whatever was going to happen, I would somehow stay strong and I would get back to them.” He also promised himself not allow himself to hate. These two commitments stayed with Jack throughout his ordeal and stood him in good stead when he realized three years later, an 80- lb. 18-year-old, that the Nazis had abandoned the concentration camp and that the war had ended. Andrea Warren includes excellent documentary photographs that help readers visualize the events of Jack’s life although Mandelbaum had few visual artifacts to contribute to the book from his shattered childhood. Warren also shapes Jack’s story so skillfully that it reads much more like fiction than like history, and accordingly, she waits until the end of the book to reveal what happened to Jack’s closest relatives. Well worth reading and an excellent companion to other books about the Holocaust, Surviving Hitler offers a glimpse into the strength of the human spirit.

Prepared by: Michelle H. Martin for The South Carolina Children's Book Award nominees 2005

Non fiction SUBJECTS:     Mandelbaum, Jack -- Childhood and youth.
                        Jews -- Poland -- Biography.
                        Holocaust survivors.
                        Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Poland -- Gdynia -- Personal narratives.
                        Gdynia (Poland) -- Biography.


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