Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Somewhere There Is Still A Sun

Somewhere There Is Still A Sun

Fall 2015 Non-Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Michael Gruenbaum
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781442484863
Hardcover Price: $17.99

This superbly written story of a young Holocaust survivor and his family manages to be hopeful and poignant, without shying away from dark truths.

Michael Gruenbaum, along with his mother and sister, spent three years in Terezin, a concentration camp, from 1942 until the end of the war. Although the story begins in their comfortable middle-class years in Prague, readers can feel the thunder rumbling as one hardship after another befalls them until the inevitable day of their transport.

It's written in present-tense, through the eyes of 12-year-old Misha, and reads like the journal of a close friend. There are pickup soccer games and adolescent camaraderie, even a first crush. Living conditions are difficult to unbearable, and the fear of those horrible trains looms daily, but the boys in Room 7 develop an unshakeable bond. They find a way to live life in the present, without capitulating to terror or dread of the unknown.

Misha's age gives him an innocence and naiveté that helps him survive these grim years and allows the story to appropriately unfold for young readers.

There are heartbreaking moments, of course, but also ones of great beauty.

Kudos to Gruenbaum's collaborator Todd Hasak-Lowy, who obviously did meticulous research to capture time and place so authentically. His Afterword, describing this process, is well worth reading.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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