FICTION

Prisoner B-3087

260p. Scholastic. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-45901-3. LC 2012012460.
COPY ISBN
Gr 6–10—"If I had known what the next six years of my life were going to be like, I would have eaten more. I wouldn't have complained about brushing my teeth, or taking a bath, or going to bed at eight o'clock every night." Yanek Gruener was 10 years old when the German army invaded Poland in 1939 and trapped his family inside the walls of the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. Over the course of World War II, he saw his parents deported by the Nazis and survived 10 different concentration camps. Through Gratz's spare, persistent prose, the story of the boy's early life unfolds with the urgency and directness necessary for survivor stories. While some liberties have been taken, with the permission of Gruener and his wife, Ruth, also a survivor, the experiences and images come directly from the Grueners' collective memories of the war. An author's note provides further biographical information. A powerful story, well told.—Sara Saxton, Tuzzy Consortium Library, Barrow, AK
This account of how a Polish teen endured ten concentration camps in three years is as moving as it is harrowing. Though fictionalized “to paint a fuller and more representative picture of the Holocaust as a whole,” survivor Yanek Gruener’s story is a stunning depiction of strength and courage. Alan Gratz’s matter-of-fact writing style is neither cynical nor sentimental, perfectly matching Yanek’s unflappable attitude: “I would not give up. I would not turn myself in. No matter what the Nazis did to me, no matter what they took from me, I would survive.” Yanek faces many ethical dilemmas that raise profound questions: “I wouldn’t steal bread from a living boy, but I would wish death on him so I could take it without guilt? . . . What had the Nazis turned me into?” Allows readers to decide the moral of the story themselves, rather than explicitly presenting life lessons.

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