Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021

If you’re interested in learning more, my wonderful friend Kelly pointed me to an article today, (and it was excellent) titled “QAnon Conspiracy Theories Are Being Promoted by Wellness Influencers and the Pro-True Rioters“.

If you would like to instead celebrate the resilience of the Jewish community, and mourn with them about a generation lost, check out this article about an online meet-up with Auschwitz survivors.

From the BBC, there are interviews with others about how being unable to meet-up has brought up more struggles, where the theme for 2021 is “be the light in the darkness.” For now, I bring you two books that can help address the historical atrocities that have been faced by millions, and the echoing generational trauma that is continuing to impact the Jewish community today, as well as continue to show their resilience and healing in the face of those who are, quite frankly, white supremacist antisemitic garbage people.

The featured image for this post was obtained from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and is the cover image for the video they made, which can be watched here.

Another interesting article found here, which is about the IPN. The IPN “The mission of the Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej – Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu – the IPN) is to research and popularize the modern history of Poland and to investigate crimes committed from 8 November 1917, throughout the Second World War and the communist period, to 31 July 1990.”

Maurice and His Dictionary: This story was written by Maurice’s son, Cary. It details how Maurice and his family fled the Nazi invasion in Belgium, first to France and then to Portugal through Spain, finally landing in Jamaica. Through persistence and perseverance, Maurice studied a dictionary and attended Jamaica College and then went to Canada for further study.

The story is beautiful, and in a graphic novel style. This adds a level of emotion that I don’t think could be achieved by only having one large illustration per page. Each Holocaust story is unique, and some are more well-known than others. This was personally the first time I learned about the internment camp in Jamaica, showing that no matter how old you are, there’s always more to learn about history.

The House by the Lake: This second story is also an emotional family retelling of a WWII familial history, this time by the great-grandson. Turning the pages, the reader is shown the history of a house, it’s many inhabitants, and finally its reclamation and restoration by author Thomas Harding himself.

The story gives excellent explanations of how Jewish families were forced to turn over their property to the Gestapo, who then sold it for a profit. The (now-named) Alexander Haus was also within sight of the Berlin Wall, and home to people on both sides of history. In the back is additional biographical information about the folks described in the story. I appreciate this is in the back, because if all of these names and dates were interspersed within the story, it could be too complex for early readers. Having the main character be the house itself, it shows how radically lands (and politics) can change in a region in under a century.

These books were both sent by the publishers. Maurice was sent by OwlKids and House was sent by Candlewick Press. As always, opinions are my own as well as the decision to review!

Cary Fagan

CARY FAGAN is an award-winning author for children and adults. In 2014 Cary was awarded the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People for his body of work. Cary was born and raised in Toronto, where he lives with his family. 

Cana­di­an author Cary Fagan has ded­i­cat­ed his writ­ing tal­ent to help­ing chil­dren under­stand the refugee expe­ri­ence. He is a grand­son of Jew­ish emi­grant Mau­rice Fej­gen­baum, who, along with his fam­i­ly, fled Nazi-occu­pied Bel­gium; they first found safe haven in the British colony of Jamaica, and ulti­mate­ly set­tled in Cana­da. Fagan nar­rates his graph­ic nov­el from the per­spec­tive of Mau­rice, a con­fused and fright­ened child. His sto­ry begins in chaos and fear, but ends in hope, as Mau­rice dis­cov­ers that many peo­ple empathize with his predica­ment and are com­mit­ted to help­ing him achieve his dream. Illus­tra­tor Enzo Lord Mariano’s live­ly sequences of com­ic book-style action com­ple­ment Fagan’s min­i­mal­ist word bub­bles, where fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty inter­action mix with Maurice’s reflec­tions on his life.

Enzo Lord Mariano

ENZO LORD MARIANO is an illustrator and musician living in Montreal, Quebec. He discovered the magic of illustration when he was a child, and was bitten by the music bug as a teenager. He doesn’t leave the house without a pencil in his pocket and a mandolin strapped to his back.

Thomas Harding

Thomas Harding is a bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 16 languages. He has written for the Sunday Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, among other publications. He is the author of HANNS AND RUDOLF, which won the JQ-Wingate Prize for Non-Fiction; THE HOUSE BY THE LAKE, which was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award; and BLOOD ON THE PAGE, which won the Crime Writers’ Association “Golden Dagger Award for Non-Fiction”. His recent books include LEGACY, FUTURE HISTORY, and a picture book version of THE HOUSE BY THE LAKE. You can follow Thomas on twitter @thomasharding

Britta Teckentrup

Britta Teckentrup is an award winning illustrator, author and fine artist. She was born in Hamburg and grew up in a city called Wuppertal. She moved to London in 1988 to study illustration and fine art at St Martin’s College and the Royal College of Art. Her awards include a nomination for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis and two Special Mention at the Bologna Ragazzi Award for ‘Alle Wetter’ and ‘The Egg’.  ‘Don’t Wake Up Tiger’ was Dutch picture book of the year 2018 and ‘Under the Same Sky’ on the shortlist for the Kate Greenaway Award.
Britta has been invited to give workshops at The Edinburgh Book Festival, Hay Festival, Bath Festival and Ilustratour and her fine art work has been frequently exhibited at her London gallery and at art fairs all over the world. You can listen to an interview on Deutschlandfunk here.  Since 1993 Britta has written and illustrated over 100 picture books which have been translated into 25 different languages. After 17 years in the UK – Britta now lives and works in Berlin with her Scottish husband and their son Vincent.