Lonek's Journey: The True Story of a Boy's Escape to Freedom
Lonek's Journey: The True Story of a Boy's Escape to Freedom

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Annotation: Details the true story of Lonek, an eleven-year-old Jewish boy whose family moved to escape persecution in Poland during World War II but were sent to a Russian gulag, and his eventual escape to Israel.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #5902
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Star Bright Books
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition Date: c2005
Pages: 141 p.
Availability: Special Order Only - Contact Customer Service at +1 800 637-6581 or +1 217 243-5451
ISBN: Publisher: 1-595-72021-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-07595-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-595-72021-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-07595-5
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2005010898
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
From 1939 to 1943, a young Polish Jew named Lonek traveled by land and sea from Poland to Palestine; Whiteman recounts his story in earnest, if sometimes awkward, prose. Adversities included persecution, harrowing train rides, life in an orphanage, and trips on decrepit boats, but Lonek survived and became an engineer. Maps and a few black-and-white photos illustrate the book. Glos.
Kirkus Reviews
<p>Eleven-year-old Lonek's experiences as a Jewish child in the early years of WWII are almost unbelievably horrible: Forced to flee Poland in 1939 after the German invasion, he and his family are transported to a Siberian gulag, where they remain for a year, barely surviving unspeakable conditions. Upon their release, Lonek's anguished mother brings him to an orphanage because that seems his only chance to live. What follows is the boy's harrowing, solo two-year journey that takes him to other parts of the Soviet Union, then to Iran, India, around the Middle East and, finally, to safety in Palestine in 1942. Readers will marvel at how anyone, let alone a child, could endure all this and will cheer as Lonek reaches freedom at last. However, the recounting of his tribulations and ultimate triumph deserves a much better treatment than is given here. Lonek's story should be more involving and engrossing, but Whiteman's writing is pedestrian and repetitive, especially given that she has already written this story for adults. Photos and follow-up postwar data on Lonek and his family are included. (Nonfiction. 10-12)</p>
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-When Lonek was 11, his family tried to evade capture by the Nazis by going into hiding, first to a hole dug under a remote barn and then to a Russian-occupied city where they hoped to blend in with its citizens. Fatefully, they were discovered and deported to Siberia, barely surviving weeks on a crowded freight train. Lonek became the resourceful one at the cold and stark gulag, finding ways to supplement the family's food supply with fish and berries. When the prisoners were freed and told to find their own way home, his family settled in a Russian city, but were so poor that his mother left him on the doorstep of an orphanage. Through diplomatic efforts, the orphans were sent to Palestine where they were welcomed and provided with caregivers and education. An afterword tells briefly about Lonek's adult life, his parents' remarkable survival, and their reunion with their son 10 years later. Historical facts are added in small doses as they relate to the protagonist's situation, and offer insight to the plight of Jewish refugees. The story is written from Lonek's point of view and filled with the wide-eyed wonder of each new circumstance and the optimism of a child, although captioned photographs and a glossary remind readers how lucky he was to have survived.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Through the astonishing journey of one Polish Jewish boy, this true escape story brings a seldom-told part of World War II history close. Lonek is 11 when the Nazis invade his Polish hometown in 1939. First he hides in a hole under the stable of friendly neighbors; then his family makes the dangerous escape to Russian-occupied Poland, from where the family members are deported in a horrific three-week crossing to the harsh Siberian slave-labor camps. But following a deal with the British, Stalin lets them go, and for two years Lonek travels on foot, by train, and by ship, until, with 1,000 other orphans, he reaches safety in Palestine. The political convolutions are not easy to follow, but the arbitrariness of the boy's survival is an integral part of the story, which is told in short, stark chapters, each ending on a note of mounting suspense. Always there is the reality of anti-Semitism not only from the Nazis but also from many Polish refugees. In the most heartbreaking scene, Lonek's mother abandons him at the orphanage door to save him. With occasional black-and-white photos, clear maps, and extensive historical notes, this is an important addition to history collections.
Word Count: 28,094
Reading Level: 5.7
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.7 / points: 4.0 / quiz: 102999 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:10.0 / quiz:Q40194
Lexile: 830L
Guided Reading Level: Y
Fountas & Pinnell: Y

In 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, 11-year-old Lonek and his family fled to the east. When Russia invaded Poland, the family was imprisoned in a Soviet gulag. In 1941, when Germany attacked Russia, about 100,000 Poles were released from gulags and prisons and joined General Anders on a march of thousands of miles to join the Allied Forces in the Middle East. Lonek was one of the 1,000 Jewish children who traveled with them to freedom. Illustrated with photographs.

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