cover image Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued

Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued

Peter Sís. Norton Young Readers, $19.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-324-01574-1

Though Nicholas Winton saved hundreds of children during the Holocaust, his heroism didn’t come to light until 1988, when his wife found records of the train journeys he had arranged to carry Czech children from Prague to London. In this quiet, deeply considered picture book biography, Caldecott Honoree Sís weaves Winton’s story together with that of Vera Gissing, one of the children he saved, conveying the hard truths of the Holocaust in language that younger readers can take in. In spreads of pale blue, Sís portrays Winton’s arrival in Prague and his realization that he could help children escape: “England would allow refugees under seventeen to come—if families could be found to take care of them.” The young stockbroker works feverishly to arrange placements and train tickets. Meanwhile, Gissing’s country childhood is recreated with folk-style maps, small cutaways, and dreamlike images; in one spread, her parents hover in mid-air, like figures in a Chagall painting. Winton’s humility is the thread that runs through the story—“I did not face any danger... I only saw what needed to be done,” he said—and the account of Gissing’s life illuminates what was at stake. An author’s note includes further details. Ages 6–8. [em](Jan.) [/em]