What Rosa Brought

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Nov. 2023. 32p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063056480.
PreS-Gr 4–A story that may be challenging for younger children to fully understand but is compelling even before readers know that it is based in true events. Rosa is a Jewish girl in Vienna in 1938. Her grandmother watches her during the day, while her parents run the family shop. “Then the Nazis came, and things changed.” The girl is confused as the appearance of Swastika symbols and vandalism become more commonplace in her neighborhood. Her grandmother simply explains: “The Nazis say Jews are bad. Some people believe them.” Rosa’s parents try to stay optimistic, hopeful that their loyal customers will continue to shop and support the family. Increasingly oppressive prohibitions, including banning Jews from owning businesses, force the family to pivot: making and selling trunks one at a time as if it were for a yard sale. After failing the first time, the family eventually receive their visas to leave for America. However, Rosa’s grandmother must stay behind, as the Nazis only permitted three family members to leave. “I’m the oldest,” the grandmother explains to Rosa. “and you and your parents have many more years of life left than I will take my love with you.” This devastatingly poignant picture book is based on a true story: Rosa is the author’s mother. The dialogues and events are based on her memories, stories from his grandparents, and supplemented by records.
VERDICT Within the context of guided family and classroom conversations, this gorgeously illustrated picture book can be an important age-appropriate tool to educate children about the Holocaust while emphasizing the enduring power of perseverance and love.

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