Tales That Teach
Three excellent new books focus on the Holocaust.
ana's Suitcase by
Published by Albert
Whitman & Co.
Every now and then a book
comes along that is simply like no
other. Hands Suitcase is such a
The text itself is well-written, the
design of the book is terrific. But
even if all that had failed it would
still be incomparable, because this
story is astonishing.
Two years ago, the Children's
Holocaust Education Center in
Tokyo received a suitcase bearing
the words Hana Brady, May 16,
1939, along with Waisenkind,
"orphan" in German.
Those who saw the suitcase were
intrigued: Who was Hana and
what had happened to her?
Fumiko Ishioka is curator of the
Holocaust Education Center in
Tokyo, and she was determined to
solve the mystery. Hands Suitcase is
the story of how Fumiko searched
literally throughout the world for
information about a little girl
named Hana. It was a search that
took her back to a country once
called Czechoslovakia, and ulti-
mately to Auschwitz, where 11-
year-old Hana was murdered.
Hana's Suitcase tells an incredible
story of a pretty little girl — a girl
who liked to draw, who adored
her family, who was clever, who
wanted to become a teacher. It is
filled with photographs, and all this
makes it almost unbearably heart-
breaking to read.
At the same time, it is the story
of a woman — Fumiko Ishioka —
whose determination and compas-
sion is nothing less than breathtak-
ing. Not only did she discover a
great deal about the life of Hana,
she worked with a group of
Japanese children called Small
Wings to help teach about Hana
and others who died in the
As this book concludes, Small
Wings has the chance to meet with
Hana's brother, and they present
him with a poem about Hana. It
reads, in part:
I wonder what kind of girl she
A few drawings she made at
Terezin — these are the only things
she left for us ...
Why was she killed.? There was one
She was born Jewish.
Name: Hana Brady. Date of Birth.
May 16, 1931. Orphan.
We, Small Wings, will tell every
child in Japan what happened to
We, Small Wings, will never forget
what happened to one-and-a-half
million Jewish children.
Nor will you forget this book.
which reminds us that it wasn't just
"millions of people" who were
murdered: it was one child, one
woman, one man, one grandfather,
one aunt, one infant that added up
In this book, for example,
chances are you and your children
will have a difficult time leaving
page 23. This is where you see a
girl, perhaps aged 4, in a white coat
and boots, a white ribbon in her
hair, who is on her way to the gas
Lawton's other great contribution
is that he presents the facts directly;
his writing is straightforward,
frank. There's nothing maudlin or
sentimental here, nor does Lawton
insert his own opinion.
This is, of course, a painful book
to read. And while it is written for
the younger reader, parents must
carefully review the material first,
as there are some profoundly dis-
turbing photos, especially those
that show "medical experiments"
conducted at the death can p.
After The Darkness: Re ctions On
the Holocaust by Elie Wiesel. By
Schoken Books. Hardback. $20.
After Lawton's Auschwitz, you
likely will be needing a dose of
hope. This is where Elie Wiesel's
book Reflections On the Holocaust
Wiesel's name — not the photo
and not the title — is the central
feature on this book's cover, and in
fact After the Darkness is not really
about the Holocaust, but rather
Wiesel's understanding of it.
Translation: if you're a Wiesel fan
you're likely to want this book.
Otherwise, it may not be for you.
Wiesel's style is, as always, to
write with many questions. ("How
could this tragedy have happened?
Why did the leaders of the free
world not take the necessary meas-
Auschwitz: The Story of a Nazi
Death Camp by Clive A. Lawton.
Candlewick Press. Hardback.
A responsibility that will forever
challenge parents and educators is
how to speak about evil with chil-
dren. Nowhere is this more evident
than when it comes to the
Of the thousands of books about
the Holocaust, a small percentage
have been written specifically for
children (that is, mature and older
children). Fortunately, most of
these are actually quite good.
Included in this category is
Auschwitz by Clive Lawton.
Lawton succeeds in two vital
areas: first, the message is personal.
On almost every page you find
photos of individuals, up close,
on page 84