cover image ALWAYS REMEMBER ME: How One Family Survived World War II

ALWAYS REMEMBER ME: How One Family Survived World War II

Marisabina Russo, . . Atheneum/Schwartz, $16.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-689-86920-4

When Oma left Poland for Germany after WWI, her grandmother gave her a heart necklace—which she still wears—saying, "When you wear this, always remember me... and may luck follow you wherever you go." Every Sunday, narrator Rachel and her Oma look at photos of Oma's life as a young Jewish mother raising three daughters in Germany. Though she usually skips some pages, this Sunday Oma says, "I think you are old enough to hear the rest of the story now." In straightforward, matter-of-fact language, Oma tells Rachel how Germany became unsafe for Jews. Sepia-toned photographs and memorabilia show, among other things, Oma's identity card, stamped with "a giant red J as if we were criminals who couldn't be trusted," a newspaper clipping about Kristallnacht and a yellow cloth star with the word "Jude." As Oma describes the memories of her concentration camp years, the gray scenes Rachel imagines appear on the opposite page. Russo (an author's note details her family history on which this story is based) somberly balances one family's good fortune—Oma and her three daughters survived the Holocaust and were reunited—with the tragedy of millions. In the poignant ending, Oma gives Rachel her good-luck charm: "It is time for the necklace from my grandmother in Poland to go to my granddaughter in America." Moving yet unsentimental, this book presents tragedy in the context of family love and hope, thus offering readers a safe context for learning a difficult chapter of history. Ages 6-up. (Apr.)