Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.
Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.
This title has Common Core connections.
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 Terez n ("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.