My son did a year long study of World War 2 last year, he learned so much. Throughout that year, and continuing, we’ve been reading WW2 books together. I was delighted to see Chance: Escape from the Holocaust. What a quietly done memorial of a horrible time in Uri Shulevitz’s life. Difficult questions, difficult time he lived through, this book done in picture and word. A thoughtful look back.
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The Basic Details
I received these Memories of a Refugee childhood from Raincoast Books for my review. Chance – Escape from the Holocaust, written by Uri Shulevitz is a picture and prose book published by Farrar Straus Giroux.
It’s a heavy book, written from the perspective of a child, covering 8 years of his life as a Polish refugee living in Russia and various European countries.
Written by Uri Shulevitz who is a Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator and author. These are his memories. This book is written for children 8-14 years old. The language and style suits this age group well.
Learning more about Chance
Uri conveys his message in a number of ways. Photos, comic strips, prose, and illustrations are used. Mostly we get to read, of his hunger, the struggle to survive, the difficulties his parents faced, and the encouragement to draw he received.
I’m not going to say it’s an easy read. Hard things happen with refugees. Politics get involved which can make it easier or harder for the refugees who are at the mercy of how the wind blows. They have no permanent home and a hard time finding work. This makes for hunger, illness, death, being taken advantage of, and more. It’s not an easy life and Mr. Shulevitz helps his readers understand that reality.
The artwork tended toward darkness. This was not an easy time in Uri’s history and everything in the tale conveys the difficulty of these years. BUT you also find moments of light and encouragement. Moments when you can see glimpses of the artist he will become, and the constant support he received from his parents. The love of family was evident throughout.
Should you get it?
Yes. Chance – Escape from the Holocaust, opened up an area of WW2 that I had not previously studied. I was unaware of Polish refugees fleeing to Russia and what their reception was.
Sensitive readers might need to have their parents alongside to help them process the difficulties that Uri and his family faced.
How to use? Just to read and have a better knowledge base, as part of your WW2 studies, in understanding the plight of refugees, to get a better understanding of a good artist/illustrator, and to observe the growth of an artist, even in difficult times.