Hana's Suitcase: A True Story
Hana's Suitcase: A True Story

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Annotation: A biography of a Czech girl who died in the Holocaust, told in alternating chapters with an account of how the curator of a Japanese Holocaust center learned about her life after Hana's suitcase was sent to her.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #130351
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition Date: 2003
Pages: vii, 111 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8075-3147-2 Perma-Bound: 0-605-00605-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8075-3147-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-00605-8
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2002027439
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Not another heartbreaker about a child in the Holocaust. Yes, but this one has a new contemporary connection. Alternating chapters tell not only of the Jewish Hana Brady's deportation with her older brother, George, from their happy home in Czechoslovakia, first to Terezin, and then to Auschwitz (where Hana died); but also of Fumiko Ishioka, now a director of a newly established Holocaust education center in Tokyo, who acquires Hana's suitcase, pursues Hana's story, and brings it to today's Japanese children. The account, based on a radio documentary Levine did in Canada (a CD of the broadcast is included), is part history, part suspenseful mystery, and always anguished family drama, with an incredible climactic revelation. The facts are inescapable, illustrated with glowing family photos, Nazi official documents that show Hana's fate, and pictures she drew in the secret art classes in Terezin. The one false note is Levine's showing everything before the Nazis as totally idyllic, and all the victims (even in the camps) as always wise and loving. Recommend this with Linda Sue Park's When My Name Was Keoko (2002), about a Korean child under Japanese occupation during World War II. Winner of the 2002 Sydney Taylor Award for Older Readers.
Horn Book
Alternating the story of Hana, a Jewish girl who died at Auschwitz, with that of a contemporary Japanese museum curator determined to commemorate her, this nonfiction account, liberally illustrated with documentary photos, tries both to bear honest witness and to tell a good story. It has limited success on both counts, but the book's warm closure makes this a good introduction to the subject for third and fourth graders.
Kirkus Reviews
<p>In 1998, the director of the newly endowed Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center's museum, whose mission is to educate Japanese students about the horrors of the Holocaust, set out to obtain artifacts for display. The Auschwitz Museum obliged by sending several items, including a small suitcase with the name Hana Brady and the German word for "orphan" painted on the front. The director, Fumiko Ishioka, supported by a group of students who had formed a club to promote understanding of the Holocaust, resolved to learn Hana Brady's story. Alternating chapters tell of the director's detective work, which takes her all the way to the site of Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic, and Hana's brief life in which Theresienstadt was the last stop before Auschwitz and the gas chamber. It is at the Jewish Museum in Prague that Fumiko learns that Hana had a brother who survived the war and emigrated to Toronto. Hana's brother, George, sends Fumiko the photos that enliven this work and then himself makes the trip to Tokyo to meet the children of the "Small Wings" club. Based on a radio documentary by the author aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Hana's story will captivate young readers as it unfolds. Levine successfully incorporates the two stories: a bleak story of a young girl's pointless suffering and death at the hands of fellow humans, the other a hopeful one of children, a world away in space and time from the events that deprived Hana of her future, who vow "never again." (Nonfiction. 10-14)</p>
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Based on a Canadian Broadcasting radio documentary produced by Levine, this book tells the story of Hana Brady, a girl killed at Auschwitz, and how her suitcase came to be a part of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center. A CD recording of the radio program is available and adds to the impact and power of the book. The story ends on a positive note by ultimately uniting Japanese schoolchildren fascinated by Hana's story with her brother George Brady, the only member of their immediate family to survive the war. The book alternates between past and present, one chapter telling the story of Hana's childhood in the Czechoslovakian resort town of Nove Mesto, and the next relating the experiences of Fumiko Ishioka, a teacher dedicated to educating the children of Japan about the horrors of the Holocaust. Black-and-white photographs of Hana and her family and Ms. Ishioka and her students accompany each chapter. As Hana's narrative draws her to Auschwitz and to the end of her life, Fumiko's story brings her closer to the solution of a puzzle that began with only a suitcase and a name. The narrative moves quickly, though the writing is often oversimplified. One can assume that direct quotes come from the memories of Hana's brother, George Brady, and Fumiko Ishioka, since they were the original narrators of the radio program, but there are no notes to that effect. Unfortunately, the stilted writing and lack of source notes mar an otherwise gripping story of a family's love and a teacher's dedication. An additional purchase for Holocaust collections.-Martha Link, Louisville Free Public Library, KY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Word Count: 15,484
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 60541 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.2 / points:6.0 / quiz:Q33865
Lexile: 730L
Guided Reading Level: Y
Fountas & Pinnell: Y

In March 2000, a suitcase arrived at a children's Holocaust education center in Tokyo, Japan. Hana Brady was written on the outside. Children who saw the suitcase on display were full of questions and the director decided to find the answers.

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