It was only when I learned about the book “Irena’s Children” that I learned about the Polish woman Irena Sendler. I had never heard of her before. During World War II, she smuggled 2,500 Jewish children out of a Polish Jewish ghetto so they wouldn’t be killed. I was surprised that she isn’t better known or talked about. During my reading of the book, I was very moved by what I learned about her as well as the people she worked with. I was happy to find out that her story had also been told in children’s books, too. When you read one of the books below, you can learn about this important woman.
Irena’s Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo
Author of The Widow Clicquot has written an amazing and gripping story about Irena Sendler, the “female Oskar Schindler,” who took huge risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. She is called “the female Schindler.”
In 1942, Irena Sendler, a young social worker, was allowed to go into the Warsaw ghetto as a public health worker. When she was there, she began to understand what would happen to the Jewish families who couldn’t leave because of the war. Soon, she started to reach out to the families who were stuck. She went door to door and asked them to let her take care of their young children. Irena was so desperate that she went to great lengths. With the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis. When she was a child, she hid in coffins, snuck under overcoats, and slipped through secret passageways in abandoned buildings. She made dangerous trips through the city’s sewers.
Even more amazing, Irena kept a secret list hidden in bottles under an old apple tree in her friend’s back yard. She did this at great risk to herself, but it was worth it. On it, the names and true identities of these Jewish children were written down so their families could find them after the war, so they could get in touch with them. She didn’t know that more than 90% of their families would die.
When I listened to this book through the audiobook version of the book, I read it very quickly. I also checked out a physical copy of the book from the library so I could see the pictures and read the author’s note, and I did both. It was a very interesting story that was written well. It was not a dry piece of non-fiction. This book reminded me of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand because it was well-researched but read like a book. And also in the way it talked about some very hard things but didn’t spend too much time talking about the gore and horror.
I found Irena Sendler’s story very interesting. When she worked with a lot of other people, she saved a lot of lives by doing what she thought was right and what other people would do, too.
I felt a lot of different emotions while I was listening to this story. I was shocked by how people treated each other, awed by her bravery, sad for the families who were separated, happy for the people who had good things happen, and so much more.
She wasn’t put on a pedestal and talked about her flaws and weaknesses, which I liked. During the book, there is a great quote about how pretending she was perfect isn’t good for her.
This is probably going to be the book that my book club talks about this fall. I think it’s a good choice because there are a lot of things to talk about, including a lot of moral dilemmas that I want to talk about.
There were zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski who hid Jews in empty cages. Irena met them and had a chance to talk to them. Their story is told in the book and movie The Zookeeper’s Wife, which I haven’t read or seen. I knew their names and where they were.
Irena’s Children: Young Readers Edition adapted by Mary Cronk Farrell
“The Female Oskar Schindler,” by Tilar Mazzeo, is about Irena Sendler, who took huge risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. It’s now been adapted for a younger audience.
Irena Sendler was a young Polish woman who lived in Warsaw during World War II. She had an amazing story of how she survived and how she helped other people who were in danger. She’s been forgotten by history.
Until now, that is.
This young readers edition of Irena’s Children tells the incredible story of Irena, who lived through one of the worst times in history. It took Irena guts of steel and unwavering bravery to sneak hundreds and hundreds of children out of the walled Jewish ghetto in toolboxes and coffins, hide them under coats at checkpoints, and slip them through the sewers and into secret passages that led to abandoned buildings. She convinced her friends and the underground resistance network to hide them.
Tilar Mazzeo and adapter Mary Cronk Farrell tell the true story of a bold and brave woman who risked her life to save innocent children from the Holocaust.
A few pages were glanced over, but it looked like it was a good adaption for younger kids. If you want to know how easy or difficult this book is to read, look at this:
Jars of Hope by Jennifer Roy
She was an unlikely hero in World War II. Irena Sendler didn’t get a lot of attention. During the Nazis, many people were afraid of them. Irena defied them, even though it could have killed her. She kept a record of the children she helped smuggle away from the Nazis. When she thought her work might be discovered, she hid her lists in jars and hoped one day to find them and reunite the children with their parents. During the Holocaust, one woman took it upon herself to help save 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto. It’s a story that will stay with you for a long time.
When I found out there was a nonfiction picture book about this important story, I was so excited. In the story, kids learn that you can’t just stand and watch as bad things happen. You can help others and make a difference and be the change you want to see in the world if you want. How important it is for kids to learn that they can be kind, selfless, and brave and change the world. People who are about 5 or 6 years old and older might be able to read this text.