An award-winning author and poet traces the history of his relatives lost in the Holocaust in a personal, powerful narrative with resonance for readers today.
“They were there at the beginning of the war, but they were gone by the end. I suppose they died in the camps.”
That’s all young Michael Rosen, born in England just after the end of the Second World War, was told about the six great-aunts and great-uncles who had been living in Poland or France at the beginning of that war. This wasn’t enough for him. So, as an adult, he started to search. He asked relatives for any papers they might have. He read book after book. He searched online, time and again, as more information was digitized and suddenly there to be found. In a unique mix of memoir, history, and poetry, scholar and children’s literature luminary Michael Rosen explores his family history, digging up more details than he ever thought he would and sharing them with readers so that now, a lifetime after the Nazis tried to make the world forget the Rosen family and the rest of Europe’s Jews, his readers can do something essential: remember. With an extensive list of titles for further reading, maps of France and Poland, a family tree, and an introduction by lauded author and anthologist Marc Aronson, this immensely readable narrative offers a vital tool for talking to children about the Holocaust against the background of the ongoing refugee crisis.
About the Author
Michael Rosen is one of the most popular contemporary poets and authors of books for children. He received the Eleanor Farjeon Award for services to children's literature in 1997 and served as Children's Laureate in the UK between 2007 and 2009. His books include the worldwide bestseller We're Going on a Bear Hunt and the award-winning Michael Rosen's Sad Book as well as What’s So Special About Shakespeare?, What’s So Special About Dickens?, and What Is Poetry? He lives in London.
Speaking in the first person, directly to readers, Rosen explains the unexplainable in simple but not simplistic language, presenting facts without sugarcoating them or underestimating children’s ability to comprehend...An important work that is immensely personal, powerful, and heart-wrenching.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The language is simple, and the content is covered in a way that is not traumatic for young readers. The back matter, which includes further reading, photos, and letters, is a helpful resource. Recommended for upper elementary or middle school libraries that need to expand their World War II collection.
—School Library Journal
This memoir is shaped into prose chapters that discuss family stories, genealogical research, and historical context, followed by Rosen’s poems (many previously published) that respond to the chapter’s theme. Background on the Rosen generational relationships can be rather tangled and slow going, but it’s necessary preparation for Rosen’s eventual discovery of how shame may have figured into his elders’ reticence to talk about the family they lost. The dialogue between poetry and prose may serve as an engaging model for youth who are plumbing their own family’s stories and secrets.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
This poignant memoir documents the author and poet’s genealogical detective work to discover his relatives’ fates during WWII...Alternating between prose and poetry, the accessible narrative includes poignant poems that underscore the search and deepen understanding of both Rosen’s family and his drive to uncover the truth. Supplemented by black-and-white photographs, a comprehensive family tree, and an extensive list for further reading, this multifaceted tome offers a potent, personal look at family history and the Holocaust, with a rousing call against ongoing prejudice and contemporary crises.