As you know, I’m an avid reader and I adore children’s books. What you may not know is that when it comes to reading adult novels, I am a lover of historical fiction, especially books set during World War II. You can imagine how excited I get, then, when a middle grade book comes out that takes place during this time period. Especially when that book is pitch perfect, appropriately conveying the tumultuous and terrifying years that were the Holocaust in a manner suitable for young children. Enter Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz, written by the dynamic father/daughter duo, Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat.
Michael was one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz, liberated from the camp when he was just four years old. A lifetime later – during the 1980s – Michael was living in the US and went with his wife to see a movie set in Brooklyn in the 1940s. During the film, the main characters watched a newsreel showing children liberated from Auschwitz. The director of the movie had utilized real photographs, and Michael was stunned to recognize his face in the footage. Michael had always stayed relatively quiet about his childhood; however, after seeing the film, and upon realizing that history was at risk of being forgotten, he decided to speak.
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What follows is Survivors Club, the remarkable collaboration between Michael and his daughter Debbie, who painstakingly pieced together Michael’s childhood wartime memories with photographs, essays and other documentary evidence to reconstruct his family’s history. The result is a moving and harrowing piece of narrative non-fiction about Michael’s life as a toddler in Zarki, Poland during the German invasion, his subsequent internment in Auschwitz, and the horrors and antisemitism he returned to after the war. Suitable for late elementary and middle grade readers, Survivors Club is an exceptional and important work that will undoubtedly have a place on shelves with The Diary of Anne Frank and Number the Stars. A must read for children and adults alike.
Want the book? Get it here! Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz, by Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions contained herein are our own.