Monday, March 26, 2018

Spring Reading 2018 The Promise


A true story of survival passed down in the family, The Promise tells of how sisters Rachel and Toby survived the loss of their parents and their own imprisonment in Auschwitz. When the girls lose their parents to the Nazis, all they have left are 3 gold coins hidden inside a tin of shoe polish. They manage to hang onto the tin and stay together as they promised their parents, until one morning when Rachel is too sick to report to their assigned work detail. When Toby finds her sister gone from their barracks that evening, she risks everything and uses the gold coins to get her sister back.

The haunting digital collage illustrations show Toby the night their parents are taken. Her curly shoulder-length hair is held back neatly by a ribbon and she wears a beautiful dress. That image is a stark contrast to the shaved heads and ragged dresses of the girls during their time in Auschwitz. The angry faces of the guards and the snarling teeth of the German Shepherds hint at the atmosphere inside the camp. But the kindness of other prisoners is also portrayed as girls share their meager soup or wrap their own blankets around Rachel as they try to help her get well.

For those looking for an introduction to World War II and the Holocaust, this personal story provides a window into that time without including graphic descriptions or images. While the disappearance of sick and elderly prisoners is mentioned, there are no specifics given. And the text tells that Toby is whipped for rescuing Rachel, but the beating is not shown. The book has a happy ending, and there are even photos of the sisters from after the war and later in life.

Recommended as a read-aloud for classes studying World War II, or as part of classroom and library collections for groups who have that time period in their social studies curriculum. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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