________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 15 . . . . March 28, 2003


Tapestry of Hope: Holocaust Writing for Young People.

Lillian Boraks-Nemetz and Irene N. Watts, compilers.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2003.
238 pp., cloth, $24.99.
ISBN 0-88776-638-2.

Subject Heading:
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)-Literary Collections.

Grades 5-adult / Ages 11- adult.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

***1/2 /4

Reviewed from prepublication copy.

The subject of Hitler's extermination of the Jews in World War II leaves most readers sad, depressed, despairing. Those are the feelings one is left with after reading this collection of memoirs, poems and excerpted stories. But according to the foreword, "...if the Holocaust is about immeasurable suffering, it is also about courage. If it is about despair, it is also about hope. If it is about needless death, it is also about precious life."

     Tapestry of Hope was put together because of the urgency of time; if these experiences are not recorded before everyone who suffered through Hitler's savagery dies, then they will be lost to history as will the lessons that mankind can learn.

     The book is divided into nine sections which follow the chronology of people's experiences during the war. They are: Hiding, Loss and Exile, Selection, Ghetto, In Flames, The Camps, Resistance, Identity - Family Secrets, and finally The Holocaust and After. Each chapter begins with short statements by actual survivors and are followed by poems, excerpts from books and plays by well known writers, including Carol Matas, Jean Little, Mordechai Richler and Eva Wiseman, among others, which makes the collection suitable for a range of ages.

     The editors perform a service by ensuring that the reader is exposed to a variety of the many trials people experienced. The stories, both those of the survivors and the fictionalized accounts, leave the reader emotionally drained. But the writings are also a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit, as exhibited by those non-Jews who hid Jewish children and friends, to the parents who made sacrifices for their children, to those who fought with their wits to survive when their physical strength failed.

     In these troubled times, one wonders why the world has not learned the lesson of the Holocaust and why hate continues. One can only hope that some people will be positively affected by this and other books about the Holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia and other international events.

     Tapestry of Hope can be very useful in a classroom situation when teaching about the Holocaust because a teacher has a large number of excerpts from which to choose. A chronology of the campaign against the Jews and of the war is included at the back, as is a list of supplemental suggested reading. Tapestry of Hope has good educational value for both a history and a language arts program.

Highly Recommended

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in the Louis Riel School Division in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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