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Inspiring is a rare word for a stark Holocaust title, but it is true of this picture-book biography that never sentimentalizes the horror as it describes individual courage and sacrifice. Drawing on Korczak's Ghetto Diary (1978), Polish author-illustrator Bogacki tells his story in quiet, clear prose and softly textured illustrations that evoke both old European portraits and famous photos of children during the Holocaust. Korczak gave up his medical practice to create an orphanage for Jewish children, and a long section describes their daily education, including the lessons he taught of independence and forgiveness. After the Nazis invaded Poland, he moved the orphanage into the ghetto, refused his chance to escape, and died with the children in Treblinka. The moving acrylic paintings include close-ups of Korczak and individual children, as well as the increasingly crowded orphanage, while the endpapers show Warsaw before World War II and then the devastated city in 1945. The back matter includes a map and detailed source notes. An effective companion to David Adler's A Hero and the Holocaust (2002).--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2009 Booklist
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Beginning with Korczak's imaginative childhood in 19th-century Warsaw, Bogacki's (Daffodil, Crocodile) tender but somber book explores the humanitarian's commitment to children's rights. He is shown fighting hunger among the indigent, treating children wounded in the Russo-Japanese war and creating an innovative orphanage with a self-governing body of child residents who, despite being relocated to the ghetto during WWII, Korczak refused to abandon. The recurring image of a crowned boy riding a horse, from Korczak's children's book King Matt the First, doesn't temper the stark reality of Korczak and the orphans' eventual demise in a concentration camp. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Gr 4-7-Korczak was a doctor, writer, and advocate for children's rights in pre-World War II Poland. He ran an orphanage for Jewish children and acted as a beloved father figure right up until he and the children perished together in Treblinka. Bogacki's picture-book biography is heartfelt and well researched. However, it seems overwhelmed by its own subject, as the author condenses the details of Korczak's upbringing and the context of the Holocaust into a backdrop for the story of the orphanage. As a result, Korczak doesn't come across as the fascinating man he was, and the book is a bit confusing. Bogacki's childlike illustrations seem wrong for the dark subject matter and dark scenes, particularly since most children don't learn about the Holocaust until fifth grade, and these pictures seem too young for that audience.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.