Fania's Heart

illus. by Richard Rudnicki. 32p. photos. Second Story. Apr. 2018. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772600575.
Gr 2–4—The discovery of an ingeniously designed little book prompts Fania to describe her experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz to her young daughter, Sorale. The book, which is shaped like a heart and fits into the palm of Sorale's hand, was created by Fania's fellow inmates as a gift for her 20th birthday. Based on the true story of a young Jewish woman from Poland who eventually settled in Toronto, this is a tale of resourcefulness and community among people who have been torn from their homes and have little in the way of resources. The narrative focuses primarily on the conditions at Auschwitz rather than on the creation of the intriguing heart-shaped book. The layout, which frequently includes long stretches of text on a peach colored background, is likely to impede children's engagement with the material. Explanations of the Holocaust and descriptions of conditions in Auschwitz are age appropriate but do not add anything unavailable in other titles on this subject for this age group. Rudnicki's artwork, frequently rendered in muted shades of salmon and grey-blues, complement the tone of the story, but are unlikely to draw in additional readers. Fania's heart-shaped book is now housed at the Montreal Holocaust Museum and inspired Carl LeBlanc's 2010 documentary, The Heart of Auschwitz. Back matter includes an author's note and photographs of Fania, Sorale, and Fania's book.
VERDICT An additional purchase, perhaps of special interest to those with access to the Montreal Holocaust Museum.

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