Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived World War II
Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived World War II

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Annotation: Introduces the Holocaust events of WWII through Grandmother Oma's discussion of photos of life before and after with Rachel.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #748
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition Date: c2005
Pages: 48
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-689-86920-7 Perma-Bound: 0-605-01439-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-689-86920-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-01439-8
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2004004228
Dimensions: 24 x 27 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In a moving picture book, Russo tells her Jewish family's story of Holocaust survival. She remembers herself as a small child visiting her grandmother, Oma, who tells Russo the family history with photos stretching back to Oma's youth and marriage before World War I. Children will need help to understand the multigenerational time frame and to keep track of who's who; in fact, the book may appeal more to adults than to young readers. But Russo personalizes the history with photo-album entries printed on the endpapers, and her gouache illustrations, framed like photos, show the individuality and strength of family members as they faced the Nazis who sought to destroy all Jews. Miraculously, Oma and her three daughters, two of whom were in the camps, survived to be reunited in the U.S. An afterword fills in some Holocaust history.
Horn Book
Oma decides her granddaughter is old enough to hear the whole story of the family's life in Germany during the Holocaust. In this autobiographical picture book, Russo's illustrations of family albums include photos, maps, identity cards, and a yellow star. An afterword provides historical background in honest but gentle language, and accents the miracle, or the luck, of this family's survival.
Kirkus Reviews
Russo has found a way to tell young children about the Holocaust by recasting her own family's story—the one her own grandmother told her—in a lightly fictionalized version, with Oma telling a small girl named Rachel about her two photo albums. One is full of pictures Rachel knows, of herself, her mother, grandmother and her aunts. The other is of Oma's life, first in Poland and then in Germany, where her family moved because "Jewish people were treated better there." Oma's own grandmother gave her a gold heart necklace before she left, and that token is a leitmotif as WWI breaks out, and Oma's husband takes it to the front and back home again. When the Nazis come to power in Germany, Oma and her daughters are separated, but miraculously survive concentration camps and the death of spouses. One daughter, who had escaped to America, kept the gold heart, which Oma now presents to Rachel. Matte gouache illustrations with the hieratic form of family photographs provide just the right counterpoint to Russo's exquisitely understated text. (Picture book. 6-10)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-The experiences of Russo's relatives before, during, and after World War II are the basis for this story about a grandmother sharing with her young granddaughter photo albums of her "first life" (in Germany) and her "second life" (after the war). Rachel's family gathers for Sunday dinner at Oma's. After the meal, Oma tells the girl of her marriage and her family's happy life; her husband's death after World War I; the rise of the Nazi party and denial of rights to Jews; the burning and looting of Jewish businesses; and life in a concentration camp. At war's end, Oma and her three daughters were reunited in America. Now she gives Rachel the gold heart necklace that her own grandmother gave her many years ago when her family left Poland for Germany ("When you wear this-always remember me and-May luck follow you wherever you go"). This book introduces the Holocaust in a simple but factual narrative that can be easily understood by youngsters who have no knowledge of World War II. Gouache illustrations in Russo's familiar folk style are accompanied by many re-creations of old photos, government papers, money, an identity card-all helping to bring the events to life. Photos on the endpapers show the author's family. This offering answers the need for appropriate Holocaust literature for young children and should be considered a first purchase.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

When Oma left Poland for Germany after WWI, her grandmother gave her a heart necklace—which she still wears—saying, "When you wear this, always remember me... and may luck follow you wherever you go." Every Sunday, narrator Rachel and her Oma look at photos of Oma's life as a young Jewish mother raising three daughters in Germany. Though she usually skips some pages, this Sunday Oma says, "I think you are old enough to hear the rest of the story now." In straightforward, matter-of-fact language, Oma tells Rachel how Germany became unsafe for Jews. Sepia-toned photographs and memorabilia show, among other things, Oma's identity card, stamped with "a giant red J as if we were criminals who couldn't be trusted," a newspaper clipping about Kristallnacht and a yellow cloth star with the word "Jude." As Oma describes the memories of her concentration camp years, the gray scenes Rachel imagines appear on the opposite page. Russo (an author's note details her family history on which this story is based) somberly balances one family's good fortune—Oma and her three daughters survived the Holocaust and were reunited—with the tragedy of millions. In the poignant ending, Oma gives Rachel her good-luck charm: "It is time for the necklace from my grandmother in Poland to go to my granddaughter in America." Moving yet unsentimental, this book presents tragedy in the context of family love and hope, thus offering readers a safe context for learning a difficult chapter of history. Ages 6-up. (Apr.)

Word Count: 3,025
Reading Level: 4.6
Interest Level: 2-5
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.6 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 86657 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.9 / points:3.0 / quiz:Q38811
Lexile: 720L

Rachel's Oma (her grandmother) has two picture albums. In one the photographs show only happy times -- from after World War II, when she and her daughters had come to America. But the other album includes much sadder times from before -- when their life in Germany was destroyed by the Nazis' rise to power.
For as long as Rachel can remember, Oma has closed the other album when she's gotten to the sad part. But today Oma will share it all. Today Rachel will hear about what her grandmother, her mother, and her aunts endured. And she'll see how the power of this Jewish family's love for one another gave them the strength to survive.
Marisabina Russo illuminates a difficult subject for young readers with great sensitivity. Based on the author's own family history, Always Remember Me is a heartbreaking -- and inspiring -- book sure to touch anyone who reads it.

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