The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin
The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin

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Annotation: Follows Ela Weissberger's family from Kristallnacht to the performances of Brundibar in the Terezin concentration camp.
Catalog Number: #11541
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Holiday House
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition Date: c2006
Pages: 40 p.
Availability: Special Order Only - Contact Customer Service at +1 800 637-6581 or +1 217 243-5451
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8234-1831-6 Perma-Bound: 0-605-10975-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8234-1831-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-10975-9
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2004057582
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
With sepia-tone family photographs and children's full-color artwork on every page, this poignant biography of a Holocaust survivor tells middle-grade readers what happened without concealment or exploitation. In 1942, at age 11, Ela Weissberger was transported with her Czech family to the Nazi concentration camp Terezin. She survived, and now, based on extensive personal interviews, Rubin tells Weissberger's story of being a Jewish child in that camp, including how the young prisoners rehearsed and performed the opera Brundibár. There's a hopeful message about the power of music, art, friends, and teachers, but the account never denies the fact that transports were always leaving for the death camps and some of the prisoners did not survive. The sources are part of the story, and individuals who want to learn more will welcome both the extensive notes and the lists of further resources. Goldman is also the author of Fireflies in theDark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin (2000), for older readers.
Horn Book
With Ela Weissberger. Relying on such well-documented sources as interviews with Terezin survivor Weissberger, Rubin extends the story she told in Fireflies in the Dark by focusing on the children's concentration camp production of Hans Krasa's opera, Brundibar. Profusely illustrated with photos and artwork from Terezin, the book includes source notes and resources (those appropriate for the young are so noted). Ind.
Kirkus Reviews
In February 1942, 11-year-old Ela was sent with her family to Terezin, the Nazis' "model camp" in what was then Czechoslovakia. Despite horrific conditions, she somehow almost thrived, thanks to extraordinary caretaker-prisoners who taught music and art to kids. With other imprisoned children, Ela painted and sang and then starred as "Cat" in all 55 performances of Brundibar, the famous Czech children's opera, presented to inmates and, twice, as propaganda ploys. Intimate friendships Ela forged with the other girls in "Room 28" (15 of whom survived) sustained her then and now. She remains close with her camp friends, speaks to students and is an honored guest at performances of Brundibar worldwide. Graced by wonderful photographs, Ela's own art and other personal memorabilia and laced with Ela's reminiscences, Rubin's title satisfyingly captures an astonishing Holocaust episode. (Nonfiction. 10-14)
Publishers Weekly

Brundibár, the children's opera that was performed in the Terezin concentration camp and whose story was retold in Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak's recent picture book, gets a unique "behind-the-scenes" treatment here, in a narrative peppered with Weissberger's quotes. Weissberger, a Jewish girl born Ela Stein in Czechoslovakia, played the titular cat in the Terezin production. Ela was one of the few children who appeared in all 55 performances of Brundibár; most of the others died at Auschwitz. With Brundibar performances providing a loose narrative thread, the book follows eight-year-old Ela's family from Kristallnacht to her arrival, at age 11, at the "model ghetto," where she is assigned to a bunkroom of 28 girls. The last half of the book follows the preparations for and performances of Brundibár and its role in the Nazis' deceptive propaganda campaign, as well as Terezin's liberation. Photographs and many of the children's drawings accompany the text (Dicker-Brandeis, who provided the art supplies, was the subject of Rubin's Fireflies in the Dark). An especially harrowing picture called "Summons to Join the Transport" depicts a female guard shining a flashlight on a girl about to be transported to Auschwitz. The book culminates in an upbeat finale: photos depict Weissberger at joyous reunions with her bunkmates (15 of the 28 girls survived), as a new generation of children around the world discover the power of Brundibár. Ages 8-12. (May)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 3-6-Rubin first met Weissberger, a Holocaust survivor, at a contemporary production of Brundib r, a children's opera most famous for having been performed by Jewish children imprisoned at Terezin. Rubin was researching Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin (Holiday House, 2000) and Weissberger was there to see the opera in which she herself had acted during her internment. The "Cat" in the title is the part that she played, and this memoir is a result of that meeting. This finely tuned collaboration weaves together narrative and memories into one cohesive story of trauma, friendship, and survival. The clearly written text incorporates countless quotes taken from numerous personal interviews, providing readers with a true and immediate account of Ela's experiences before, during, and after the war. Extensive use of historical photographs, drawings, and primary visual sources brings even greater depth to readers' understanding of the daily life endured by Terezin's children and the importance of the relationships they formed with one another and their caregivers. Rich in detail, yet not overwhelmingly dire, this is a book about remembering, and the importance of sharing one's stories with the next generation, and the next.-Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Voice of Youth Advocates
This photo essay is a companion piece to Rubin's Fireflies in the Dark (Holiday House, 2000) and documents the story of Ela Stein, who was sent to Terezin (Theresienstadt), a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia in 1942. For most of the three and a half years that Ela was at Terezin, she stayed in a barrack for girls. Ela and the others had some respite from the daily grimness and hunger in the form of art lessons from Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (the subject of Fireflies in the Dark) and music lessons from professional musicians imprisoned in the camp. One of them, Gideon Klein, staged a children's opera, Brundibar, and Ela played the role of the cat for all fifty-five performances at the camp. Ela lived at Terezin until the camp was liberated in 1945, but many other children in the barracks were transported to Auschwitz, where most of them were killed. The brief text is thick with photographs that amply illustrate the narrative, covering the period from 1938 and Kristallnacht to a production of Brundibar in 2003 in Los Angeles. The photographs of Ela's bunkmates are particularly poignant. The writing is smooth and descriptive and the memoir is thoroughly supplemented with source notes and resources in every format from publications to Web sites. An index makes gleaning information easier, but the personal nature of this title makes it a better supplement to the subject than a main resource. Although the format resembles a picture storybook, older students will find Ela's story compelling reading.-Donna Scanlon.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. 37-39) and index.
Word Count: 5,878
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 1.0 / quiz: 105430 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.8 / points:4.0 / quiz:Q39366
Lexile: 800L
Guided Reading Level: Z
Fountas & Pinnell: Z

Ela Stein was eleven years old in February of 1942 when she was sent to the Terezin concentration camp with other Czech Jews. By the time she was liberated in 1945, she was fifteen. Somehow during those horrendous three-and-a-half years of sickness, terror, separation from loved ones, and loss, Ela managed to grow up. Although conditions were wretched, Ela forged lifelong friendships with other girls from Room 28 of her barracks. Adults working with the children tried their best to keep up the youngest prisoners' spirits. A children's opera called Brundibar was even performed, and Ela was chosen to play the pivotal role of the cat. Yet amidst all of this, the feared transports to death camps and death itself were a part of daily life. Full of sorrow, yet persistent in its belief that humans can triumph over evil; this unusual memoir tells the story of an unimaginable coming of age.

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