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Ludwig's picture-book adaptation of Alter Wiener's 2007 memoir, From a Name to a Number: A Holocaust Survivor's Autobiography, recounts Wiener's experiences as a Jewish youth in Poland during WWII. She describes his family life before the war, the rise of Adolph Hitler, Wiener's father's death during the 1939 German invasion of Poland, and Wiener's own deportation to a prison labour camp two years later. While life in the camps is brutal, Wiener also remembers the courage and kindness of one German woman, a camp employee, who risks her own life to smuggle food to him. Ludwig's text lacks specificity with regard to Holocaust atrocities, a plus for the intended audience. Orback's luminous oil paintings are respectful of the subject matter and make effective use of light and shadowing. Concluded with an afterword, discussion questions, and suggested activities, this should spark debates about judging individuals based on the actions of larger groups. Pair with Leon Leyson, Marilyn J. Harran, and Elisabeth B. Leyson's The Boy on the Wooden Box (2013) for another survivor story. Grades 3-5. --Kay Weisman
Trudy Ludwig is the author of many books for children, including My Secret Bully and Confessions of a Former Bully. She has been profiled on national television, radio, and in newsprint, and her books have received the Mom's Choice Gold Award and the CCBC's "Best of the Best" award, among others. She lives in Portland, OR. Craig Orback has a B.F.A. in illustration and is a freelance illustrator. His work includes Keeping the Promise: A Torah's Journey, Paul Bunyan, and other award-winning children's books. Based in Seattle, he also teaches children's book illustration at several colleges.
Award-winning book: IBPA Gold Benjamin Franklin Award Oregon Spirit Book Honor Award Comstock Read Aloud Honors Gelett Burgess Children's Book Award- World History "...deeply moving...Even the smallest details of the story are haunting." -- Kirkus "Contemplative, gentle, and wise, Wiener's story, told by Trudy Ludwig and depicted through Craig Orback's tasteful yet realistic artwork, helps young readers understand the injustice of stereotyping and the poignancy of love and kindess..." Foreword "Gr 4-6--Ludwig bases this picture book on Alter Wiener's memoir, From a Name to a Number: A Holocaust Survivor's Autobiography (AuthorHouse, 2007). In a first-person narration, Wiener explains that he was 13 when the German soldiers killed his father; he was 15 when the Nazis came for him. The descriptions of his experiences in the concentration camps are accompanied by Orback's Norman Rockwell--like illustrations that convey the horror of the time period. The brightly hued illustrations of the small town of Chrzanow are in stark contrast to the dark and agonizing depictions of the camps. Among the darkness and despair, however, came an unexpected gift from the enemy: a German factory worker left him a sandwich every day for the 30 days he worked in the building. The book concludes with an afterword by Wiener, a paragraph explaining the Holocaust, vocabulary, discussion questions, and recommended activities. Teachers will want to read this story as an introduction to the Holocaust or to spark discussion about the importance of kindness in all of our lives." --School Library Journal "This is an important book. It may be Trudy's most important. It's bold, it's daring, it's true and oh so needed." -- Dr. Michele Borba, Today Show parenting contributor, child expert, and best-selling author "Gifts from the Enemy is breathtaking. It's a valuable resource to help young people develop empathy, compassion, and caring. This book will inspire youth to help others, emphasizing the small acts of alliance and support which the latest bullying prevention research tells us are most important." -- Stan Davis, founding member of the International Bullying Prevention Association and author of Empowering Bystanders in Bullying Prevention "Gifts from the Enemy is an extremely timely piece to help our children understand the power of their words and actions. This book is a must read for children and adults who work with them." -- Mary Yoder Holsopple, coauthor of Building Peace: Overcoming Violence in Communities and Bullying Prevention Coordinator for over 20 Indiana schools "Gifts from the Enemy is a very important story that illustrates in a unique, personal, and profound way how acts of kindness need to be acknowledged and celebrated." -- Jill Ann Slansky, Ed.D., President, Oregon Holocaust Resource Center "This is a very important book, challenging the world's most horrendous mind-sets, which must be confronted as boldly as possible. It also serves to remind everyone of this atrocious time in history and the need to resolutely stand against a recurrence. Trudy Ludwig's writing is strong yet doesn't preach and will help to make young readers stand up against injustice." -- Gretchen Olson, President, Board of Directors, Hands and Words Are Not For Hurting Project "Gifts from the Enemy is sheer perfection. It is a moving, timely story that will help educators, counseling professionals, and parents to foster social justice, kindness, and compassion in our youth." -- Laura Barbour, LSW, Elementary School Counselor