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Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project
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Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project

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4.45 of 5 stars 4.45  ·  rating details  ·  1,089 ratings  ·  223 reviews
During World War II, Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker, organized a rescue network of fellow social workers to save 2,500 Jewish children from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto. Incredibly, after the war her heroism, like that of many others, was suppressed by communist Poland and remained virtually unknown for 60 years. Unknown, that is, until three high sch ...more
Paperback, 396 pages
Published March 28th 2011 by Long Trail Press (first published June 1st 2005)
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Beth Pearson
This is one of those "Important Books" that reminds me that most of what I read is total fluff and unworthy of precious time. Not that I am going to stop reading my drivel but just a reminder that there are amazing people, things, lives out there that I know nothing about. While this is a true story set among Poland during the holocaust, it is not a depressing book. At least not to me, who already has read, learned, and thought a lot about that time in history so the facts and statistics were no ...more
Elin
This is a fantastic book. It tells the story of a Catholic social worker (Irena Sendler) who smuggled 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto. She was a minor footnote in Holocaust history until three teens from a small town in Kansas decided to write a play about her for a history day project. The book also tells the story of the teens and their research.

As someone else said it's not a book to read in public as it has many parts at which one is likely to get very choked up. I was surprise
...more
John Vibber
I don't begin to understand why this book isn't a widely-read best seller. It should be!

If I had to pick only one book to illustrate the best and worst of humanity, this would be it. The Holocaust holds an immensely painful lesson, but one that humanity can ill-afford not to re-teach. This book balances that pain with inspiration and discovery. It is the most remarkable story of heroism I have ever read. At the same time, it is the compelling story of three wonderful Kansas teens who scoop histo
...more
Karen
Thank goodness the library sent "Life in a Jar" back to me today. I'm back reading it again and continued to be totally fascinated.
Now that I've finally finished reading "Life in a Jar", I have to say I'm totally "blown away" with the story of Irena Sendler, as well as the project that the 3 High School students put together. This is one of those books which should be required reading for everyone. I encourage you to take the time and read it.
Literary
I read this book in about a day's time. All day, Saturday, I pored through page after page, unable to put down this engrossing tale of a courageous woman who strived to save the lives of innocents during a tumultuous time in her nation's history. Surely we have all heard of the atrocities of the Holocaust, but this is the first time I had read anything about Poland. I feel stupid for saying that, but I think most of what I learned in school centered on Germany.

Anyway, I enjoyed how the writing w
...more
Kate MacKinnon
This was a very good read. I canot give it 5 stars as there (in my humble opinion) was too much about the 3 teens that brought this story to light where my interest lay in Irena Sendler and her story itself. I also found the teens portion "preachy" which automatically deducts a star for me.

However - do not let that diminish how much I enjoyed this book.

The book was set in three parts - the teens coming across the story and setting in motion their amazing journey, then Irena's story of her time d
...more
Violet
This was an amazing story, written in a really, really dull way. This book was over 350 pages, and unfortunately, it probably could have been cut down by half and you still would have gotten the story. That is alot of fluff. It was really too bad, because, as I said before, the whole Life in a Jar/Irena Sendler story was amazing and very inspiring.
Stephanie
I have waited to try and write a review for this book. I don't know how to really. How is it that I can have been actively reading biographies from Holocaust survivors for over fifteen years, how is it that I can still "hear" and learn things that I didn't know?
I learned of this book from an amazing and wonderful Facebook page that I recommend to everyone, A mighty girl. They had an article on Irena Sendler. I had never heard of her and went looking for the book.
This women and her handful of f
...more
Lori
This was an amazing story, both of the woman who did incredible and daring rescue work in Poland and the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, and of the three girls who brought her story to the world. Irena Sendler saved 2500 Jewish children, street orphans and from families, by smuggling them out of the ghetto, into safe houses, giving them Christian names on forged papers and sending them on to other homes, abbeys and orphanages. She saved a list of these children's identities in milk bottles buried under ...more
Melody Wilson
I am a freshman in High-school, we did a play on Irena Sendler, in my 2011-2012 school year. Learning and hearing more about her I got interested and went out and got this book, it's like one of those books you NEED to read.

Knowing and learning that a brave young women like Irena Sendler would go out and risk her life to save thousands of children. Reading this book out a huge opening in my heart for the love of children.

One thing she quoted was,
I was brought up to believe that a person must b
...more
Kim
I saw a blurb about this woman, Irena Sendler, floating around on Facebook several months ago. I was curious about her and after looking around I found this book. I gave this book 5 stars for the part about Irena Sendler. Hers was an AMAZING story that needs to be told. She was Polish Catholic social worker that smuggled 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during WW2. She placed the children with "foster" families, convents and orphanages, and kept lists of who she put where, so that s ...more
Cindy S
A semi-documentary story of Irena Sendler, a Polish Christian who rescued 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto, at great risk to herself. Her story was uncovered by a group of mid western high school students researching a project for their History class. Out of their research, they created a play "Life in a Jar", that they have presented all over the world. This is an inspirational story of the difference one person can make in history.
Nellie
I am reading this now - not quite done. This is an amazing story about a WWII hero that was never really internationally recognized until this book came out. She smuggled 2500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, many of them infants. It is written a little too detailed and slow for me but man what an amazing thing one human being can do!!!
Michele
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Swapp
A quote from the book can give an idea of the amazing feat accomplished by this network.
"The mathematics of rescue was severe. To save one Jewish child, 10 poles and two Jews had to risk death. To betray that same child and the family that hid him required only one informer or worse still, one blackmailer. The risk of being caught by the SS was not prison, but death- death for the entire family".

This book was a beautiful accounting of triumph over terribly painful, tragic circumstances. Most ob
...more
Daria
Three teens from Kansas decide to participate in National History Day whose purpose is to bring history alive. They find a footnote in an article about Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker, who smuggled 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Surely this must be a typo, everyone thought, or we'd know about her. Communist Poland brushed all wartime activities under the rug and Irena was just a footnote, until these Kansas teens created a play called Life in a Jar and started to ...more
R
This was a great book. Non-fiction. Holocaust. This story is the true story of a little-known Polish woman, a great history teacher from Uniontown, Kansas and the three young ladies who brought this story to light. The author did a wonderful job of telling the rescue of 2500 Polish children during the Holocaust, the rescue of Irena Sendler, the rescue of the buried history of this atrocity in the 1930's and 40's and finally of 3 young ladies from Kansas who also needed rescued each in their own ...more
Debbie
Jack Mayer tells the true story of three Kansas high school students who discover the story of a woman, Irena Sendler, who rescued 2500 children from the Warsaw ghetto during WWII. Mayer alternates between the story of the high school students and Sendler's efforts during the war.

I am a stickler for the way writers capture dialogue. In many books, conversations between characters seem awkward or contrived. That is not the case here. Mayer does a great job of capturing conversations between the s
...more
Anne
This is an incredibly powerful story about the Polish Catholic social worker, Irena Sendler, who saved 3000 Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto during the holocaust, and also the story of the three Protestant teenagers from Kansas who discovered this remarkable heroic story and brought it to the world's attention. This is a harrowing history of what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust and shows how ordinary people took life threatening risks to save others. The parallel story of ...more
Yaasha Moriah
When a dear friend first lent me Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, I expected it to be interesting and educational. I did not expect it to invest me in the stories of the Holocaust so deeply, nor to insert me so vividly in an age of both horror and beauty, cowardice and bravery.

The story is powerful, first of all, because it is true. It began with a challenge from Mr. C, a Kansas teacher of Creative Social Studies: “My expectation,” he tells his students, “is for these history projects t
...more
Pam
Life in a Jar is by Jack Mayer. It is the true story of a rescuer and what she did during the Holocaust and how she became well known.
In 1999, Mr. C, a teacher in Uniontown, KS, hands a file of information to Liz Cambers as a possible National History Day project. Little did he or Liz know; but they were stepping into a project that would change not only their lives but lives of people across the world. The file Liz looked at was on Irena Sendler.
Irena was a Holocaust rescuer in the Warsaw Ghe
...more
Marie Rutherford
Except for a small newspaper cutting, the story of this heroine (who never wanted the acclaim) may well have been lost to us and to her part in history, had it not been for 3 Protestant school girls in Kansas, (America's mid west) and their need to present an original and unique project. The girls had to go "above & beyond" in their search,as so little was known about Irena Sendler. Slowly, the story was pieced together of how this Roman Catholic, Polish, Social-Worker engineered the hair-ra ...more
Brenda Dolha
A story brought to light by a very innovative history/social studies program, in a small Kansas school. I selected this book at the museum shop- the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC. The musem's slogan is 'remember what you saw', and the message is that genocide did not cease on VE Day. The story of Irena Sendler and her network came to life to three students and their teacher/advisor, and continues to inhabit them, as it does for this reader.
Kristine
I'm not one to leave reviews on books even if I really love them, I may tell friends about the book and encourage them to read it, but who am I to tell a perfect stranger that they should read a book just because I said so. But I had to leave my opinion on this book because this book and this story was so powerful. As someone who has studied the Holocaust and someone who has a list of Holocaust and World War II related books stacked all over my room, I have to say this was one of the best accoun ...more
Kim Landwehr
Life in a Jar is about Irene Sendler's (a Polish Catholic) and the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto and courage in the face of overwhelming odds and crushing oppression. It is about how that courage was almost lost to history but was rescued by an unlikely trio of Protestant kids from Kansas. If you are a fan of the Anne Franks book or Schlinder's List I would recommend this book highly to anyone 11 or older.
Nmuller
Okay, rating this book was difficult. If I am being honest, the reading of the book was a 3 for me. Not sure if I just had too many other distractions, but I just could not get into it. Felt chunky to me. That being said, the story was fantastic. I waited a few days to review it, and found myself thinking about Irena a number of times. What courage. The story of Irena is a 5+ easy.
Patricia
An excellent book for anyone interested in the Warsaw Ghetto, the Holocaust and life as a Christian Pole under Nazi occupation. Irena Sendler was a social worker in Warsaw who had been taught by her parents that one could not sit by when someone was drowning. The Jews were drowning, being forced into an overcrowded ghetto before being hauled in cattle cars to their deaths. She smuggled out 2500 children and hid them in Christian homes, convents,orphanages, giving them false papers and new names. ...more
Sandie
This book is written by a local pediatrician who learned of Irene Sendler's story and of the Kansas high school girls who made a play of her heroic actions saving Jewish children in Poland during the Holocaust.

Irene was a social worker in Poland when the Nazis came in and she formed a network of people to help her sneak Jewish children out of the ghetto and send them to foster homes and Catholic orphanages. She wrote all of their 'real' and other names and buried them on pieces of paper in jars
...more
Elizabeth K. Labedz
An excellent book about an important, but little known figure, Irena Sendler. Irena was a Catholic social worker who smuggled children out of the Warsaw ghetto during WWII. Her heroic actions were all but unknown to the world until three high school students from Kansas researched her story for a history project and spread the word about her deeds. Their research revealed that Irena was still alive, and they were able to travel to Poland on several occasions to meet her. Irena, together with som ...more
Kathleen McRae
Irena Sendler was a Irish Polish Catholic and a child welfare worker in Warsaw in the 1930's and when Hitler invades and takes over Poland with the complicity of Poles Irena becomes a member of Zagota an underground organization that tries to save as many children from the ghetto as can be managed.The Warsaw ghetto was one of the largest in Europe and two death camps were built nearby to eradicate the people in the ghetto.Treblinka ! and 2 were death camps. Irena saved over 2500 children and rec ...more
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4859207
Jack Mayer is a pediatrician and a writer. He began practicing pediatrics in 1976 in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, a small town in eastern Franklin County on the Canadian border. His was the first pediatric practice in that half of the county. He was a country doctor there for ten years, often bartering medical care for eggs, firewood, and knitted afghans. From 1987 – 1991 Dr. Mayer was a National Canc ...more
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“You see a man drowning, you must try to save him even if you cannot swim.” 11 likes
“Every time you walk into church, the first thing you see is a man on a cross. He died to save us-not to give us everything we want-to save us. That's what's so hard to understand. It's not about him answering your prayers-it's about you being like him not matter what happens on this Earth. 'Thy will be done.' There will always be sadness and pain.” 6 likes
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