Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson


 Travis Ann Sherman says:  The Boy on the Wooden Box, a Holocaust memoir, starts off, in anything, a little slowly, portraying a young Jewish boy's rural life in Poland in a loving family. As I'm reading, I'm thinking, "Hmmm, we're going to lose them on the first thirty pages." 
Then Hitler invades. Leon's father has moved his family to Krakow, where he does skilled machinist work in a factory owned by...Oskar Schindler.  The narrative heats up, to the point that I seriously considered shelving my copy in the YA section, except that I don't have a nonfiction YA section. Leyson's tale is harrowing; at one point little Leon, who works constantly to try to find or earn a little food, hurts himself and goes to the Jewish infirmary. Fifteen minutes after he leaves, the head of the camp decides the concept of a Jewish infirmary is ridiculous and goes in and murders all the patients.  And it goes on and on.  
Contrasted with the shocking horror is the fact that Leon's family is still a close, loving one, looking after each other, sacrificing for each other.  Schindler is there to rescue them and bring them together as a family, a heroic humanitarian.  
This excellent book deserves to be read by 10 - 14 year olds studying the Holocaust.  When you pull it, emphasize that it may start slow, but it gets really serious when the Nazis invade! And shiver.  Because the book made me shiver.

http://openwalls.com/image/22981/panda_bear__7_2560x1920.jpgJeannette Atwater says: The Boy on the Wooden Box surprised me. I found it to be engrossing and refreshingly honest. A great choice for any Holocaust reading list, Leon's struggle will resonate with young readers. His depictions of life in Krakow, Poland are spot-on for what I would imagine it to look like to a boy his age. The reader really understands how thankful Leon is to Oskar Schindler for rescuing his family, and the book becomes somewhat of a dedication to his hero. A great choice to accompany lessons on WWII in classrooms, or for any kids interested in the Holocaust or Jewish history.

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