by Susan L. Ross, published 2019
“When Charlie asked how many of the people in the photo album had survived the Holocaust, Mom simply looked away.”
One morning, as I started eating breakfast, I opened this children’s book to read a few lines before heading out for the day. Two hours later, I was wiping away tears as I closed the last page. I had been unable to stop till the end. A very simply written children’s book, with a familiar theme –tracking down one’s roots– is a great addition to the very large collection of post-Holocaust literature for children.
The strong point of this particular children’s book on the Holocaust is its simplicity. It has a certain matter-of-fact style that allows the reader to bring their own emotions and conclusions to the reading of the book. We each will have a different reaction. As I read of twelve-year-old Charlie’s search for information about her namesake and great aunt, I felt the importance of honoring our past by keeping the stories alive. In the same way that in this story, Charlie’s grandmother had kept all her memories locked up because they were too painful, often we do the same. But then we could die without passing on the history, both bitter and sweet, of our lives.
The author uses the coming of age of Charlie, and her interest in boys and music, as a way to give more context for the search into the past. This allows readers to take a breath now and then from the history, and remember that life has to be lived daily, even while searching in the past. It makes this children’s book in some ways a more light-weight Holocaust book, which is not such a bad thing in difficult times.