October 18, 2017

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The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe | SLJ Review

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redstarITURBE, Antonio. The Librarian of Auschwitz. tr from Spanish by Lilit Thwaites. 432p. Holt. Oct. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781627796187.

Gr 8 Up –Based on the true story of Holocaust survivor Dita Kraus, this novel features a protagonist who exemplifies courage in the face of death. Fourteen-year-old Dita is imprisoned at Auschwitz along with her mother and father in the “family camp.” Her work assignment is to assist the Jewish leader in charge of Block 31, a section created to entertain the children so that their family can work. This block has many secrets, but the most important is that eight books were smuggled in by Jewish prisoners. Dita has been entrusted with their care, making her “the Librarian of Auschwitz.” As time passes on, she becomes aware that Dr. Mengele has taken an interest in her, and while she is terrified that “Doctor Death” is paying attention to her, she finds the courage to protect her books, family, and friends at all costs. Throughout, well-known Nazi leaders and lesser-known Jewish heroes play pivotal roles, making the connection with the historical elements of the horrors of Auschwitz, and later Bergen-Belsen more credible and relatable. Despite being a fictional retelling of a true story, this novel is one that could easily be recommended or taught alongside Elie Wiesel’s Night and The Diary of Anne Frank and a text that, once read, will never be forgotten. VERDICT A hauntingly authentic Holocaust retelling; a must for YA collections.–Stephanie Wilkes, Good Hope Middle School, West Monroe, LA

This review was published in the School Library Journal August 2017 issue.

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