Reviews for Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto

Booklist Reviews 2011 April #2
*Starred Review* Irena Sendler, a young Catholic social worker in Warsaw during WWII, watched as the city's Jews were confined in the overcrowded ghetto and, later, taken in groups to Treblinka. Risking her life, Irena worked with an underground organization, talking with parents in the ghetto, helping their babies and children escape its walls, teaching them enough Polish to deceive the Nazis, and placing them in convents and foster homes. Though she was captured by the Gestapo, tortured, and sentenced to death, Irena escaped and continued her work. By the war's end, she had rescued nearly 400 children and helped many more. The book concludes with an afterword, which explains why Sendler remained virtually unknown for decades, as well as lists of resources and source notes for quotes in the text. Rubin tells Sendler's dramatic story with quiet dignity and grace and lets her speak for herself in the last lines of the afterword. The book's large format gives plenty of scope for Farnsworth's impressive oil paintings. The many night scenes, in particular, make effective use of light, movement, and gesture. Although reflecting the quiet tone of the writing, the large-scale paintings also express the story's essential drama. A moving tribute to a courageous woman. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Disguised as a nurse, Irena Sendler covertly rescued nearly four hundred children from the Warsaw ghetto, smuggling them out in trucks, potato sacks, and coffins; teaching them Catholic prayers to disguise their origin; and finding them shelter in homes and convents. Farnsworth's dramatic oils convey the danger and urgency of Sendler's mission, which Rubin details with brisk clarity. Bib., ind. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 March #1

Irena Sendler stands out on the list of righteous Gentiles for her incredibly daring methods of hiding and transporting nearly 400 babies and children out of Nazi-occupied Poland. Sendler continually moved the children from one safe house to another posing as a nurse and employing several tactics, from hiding a 6-month-old in a carpenter's tool box to concealing little ones under stretchers and floorboards during ambulance runs to smuggling them out in body bags to the cemetery as if ready for burial. Discovered and arrested, she escaped certain execution with the help of her collaborating resistance agency yet was shunned later on in life by the Polish Communists for her efforts. Rubin's documentary-style narrative is smoothly interspersed with dialogue taken from interviews conducted with many of the now-adult survivors, allowing the realistic and passionate portrayal of this woman's convictions and determined bravery to ring with the grateful voices of the many she worked so tirelessly to save. Farnsworth's moody oil renditions authentically capture the tension, fear, despair and darkness of the period and culminate with a shining lifelike portrait of this now elderly heroine, who is only lately being recognized for her valiant behavior. (resources, index) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 March #4

Arresting oil paintings pair with vivid prose to tell the story of a Polish social worker who concealed Jewish children from the Nazis. In her third collaboration with Farnsworth set during WWII, Rubin reveals Sendler's harrowing efforts to transport children to safety in body bags and coffins, as well as her success in concealing a list of the children's names (in hopes that they might be reunited with their families). Sendler's resolute face is luminous against Farnsworth's bleak depictions of the ghetto and in a passage describing her torture by the Gestapo. It's a haunting and unflinching portrait of human valiance. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 May

Gr 4-7--When German troops occupied Warsaw in 1939, Sendler, a young Catholic social worker, immediately joined the resistance movement. She helped hundreds of Jews by issuing false documents and became an integral member of the underground organization known as Zegota. Disguised as a nurse, she used a forged medical pass to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to bring nearly 400 Jewish children to safety. She organized escape routes through the sewers; hid children under stretchers and floorboards in ambulances; and smuggled babies in potato sacks, suitcases, and toolboxes. She found havens in convents and orphanages, or placed children with Polish foster parents. Remarkably, Sendler kept careful records in the hope of being able to reunite them with their families after the war. Despite being jailed and tortured by the Gestapo, she miraculously escaped the firing squad and continued to work for the underground movement until the end of the war. She was labeled a traitor by the Soviet government, so her remarkable story wasn't brought to light until the collapse of communism in Poland in 1989. Rubin's detailed, lengthy text is paired with Farnsworth's dark, somber full-page oil paintings. As with other illustrated biographies of heroes from the Holocaust, such as David A. Adler's A Hero and the Holocaust: The Story of Janusz Korczak and His Children (Holiday House, 2002) and Michelle McCann's Luba: The Angel of Bergen-Belsen (Tricycle, 2003), readers mature enough to handle the difficult topic and complex story may be turned off by the picture-book format. However, this important story deserves a place on library shelves.--Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL

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