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The Librarian of Auschwitz
Contributor(s): Iturbe, Antonio, Thwaites, Lilit Žekulin (Translator)
ISBN: 1627796185     ISBN-13: 9781627796187
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
    OUR PRICE: $17.99  
Product Type: Hardcover
Published: October 2017
Annotation: Follows Dita Kraus from age fourteen, when she is put in charge of a few forbidden books at Auschwitz concentration camp, through the end of World War II and beyond. Based on a true story.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Concentration camps; Fiction.
Books and reading; Fiction.
Jews; Czechoslovakia; History; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2017007363
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 9.50" H x 6.50" W x 1.75" (1.28 lbs) 423 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 192253
Reading Level: 6.8   Interest Level: Upper Grades   Point Value: 21.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2018 #1)
January 1944: "In this life-destroying factory that is Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the ovens burn corpses day and night, Block 31 is atypical, an anomaly." It's where the children in camp BIIb, or the "family camp," are kept busy so their parents can work more efficiently--or so the Nazis think; in reality, the prisoners are running a school. Even more extraordinary, the school has a librarian: fourteen-year-old Edita Adlerova (based on a real person), in charge of eight precious, forbidden books and more "living" ones--teachers who tell the children stories they know by heart. Iturbe's remarkable account uses an immediate present tense to immerse readers in Dita's story as she goes about what constitutes daily life in Auschwitz, all the while risking everything to distribute and hide the library's books. Iturbe centers books as well, often pausing to relate the plots of the ones Dita reads (e.g., H. G. Wells's A Short History of the World); these seem like tangents but in fact serve to reinforce one of the novel's themes: that books save lives. Unlike many Holocaust accounts, where the death camps in their unimaginable horror can feel separate from real, everyday life, here Iturbe continually and crucially reminds readers that Auschwitz happened in the real world: we get dates and hard facts ("During the night of the 8th of March, 1944, 3,792 prisoners from the family camp BIIb were gassed and then incinerated in Crematorium III of Auschwitz-Birkenau"); we follow many other people's narratives--including a few who escape the camp. An epilogue tells of the protagonist's life after liberation; back matter includes a "postscript" describing the author's meeting with the real Dita (married name Kraus) when she was eighty, information about the fates of other people from the story, and a list of primary sources consulted. The front and back endpapers are maps of the concentration camp in 1944. martha v. parravano Copyright 2017 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2017 August #4)

Drawing on his own interviews with Holocaust survivor Dita Kraus, who now lives in Israel, Spanish author Iturbe describes the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau in unflinching, straightforward prose (smoothly translated by Thwaites) that reflects his journalism background. A fierce lover of books, 14-year-old Dita helps out in the makeshift school of Block 31, the children's block in the family camp, and volunteers to take care of eight precious but forbidden books, risking certain death if she were to be found out. The role of librarian for Block 31's tiny collection gives Dita a sense of purpose in a bleak camp where death, torture, and humiliation are omnipresent. As Dita's story unfolds, alternating between her present circumstances at the camp and her memories of Prague and the ghetto of Terezín ("a city where the streets led nowhere"), Iturbe interweaves the names and stories of other survivors and victims of Auschwitz, turning the narrative into a monument of remembrance and history. All but guaranteed to send readers searching for more information, this is an unforgettable, heartbreaking novel. Ages 13–up. (Oct.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2017 August)

Gr 8 Up—Based on the true story of Holocaust survivor Dita Kraus, this novel features a protagonist who exemplifies courage in the face of death. Fourteen-year-old Dita is imprisoned at Auschwitz along with her mother and father in the "family camp." Her work assignment is to assist the Jewish leader in charge of Block 31, a section created to entertain the children so that their family can work. This block has many secrets, but the most important is that eight books were smuggled in by Jewish prisoners. Dita has been entrusted with their care, making her "the Librarian of Auschwitz." As time passes on, she becomes aware that Dr. Mengele has taken an interest in her, and while she is terrified that "Doctor Death" is paying attention to her, she finds the courage to protect her books, family, and friends at all costs. Throughout, well-known Nazi leaders and lesser-known Jewish heroes play pivotal roles, making the connection with the historical elements of the horrors of Auschwitz, and later Bergen-Belsen more credible and relatable. Despite being a fictional retelling of a true story, this novel is one that could easily be recommended or taught alongside Elie Wiesel's Night and The Diary of Anne Frank and a text that, once read, will never be forgotten. VERDICT A hauntingly authentic Holocaust retelling; a must for YA collections.—Stephanie Wilkes, Good Hope Middle School, West Monroe, LA

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.