Monster's Reviews > Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust

Terrible Things by Eve Bunting
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Jun 21, 2010

bookshelves: scary-books-for-kids

Ages: Upper elementary and older, with appropriate guidance.

I am including this book on the list because of the horror I felt as I was reading it, so please don't consider its inclusion to be frivolous. I certainly wouldn't give it to a fourth grader insisting on a "scary book." Although this is a picture book, care needs to be taken about how it is shared with children. It should never be read alone: it is too terrifying. It should always be read with guidance and followed with discussion. The story's main character is Little Rabbit, who watches the animals in his clearing disappear one group at a time as the Terrible Things descend upon the inhabitants. The remaining animals pretend that nothing is happening, and finally Little Rabbit is the only witness to the disappearance of all of the animals. The words are spare and the story on its own is a powerful and frightening one, but the true horror of the situation is expressed through Stephen Gammell's terrifying black and white illustrations. The Terrible Things are shadowy smears across the pages. We never see their true shapes, we only see the fear they create. Terrible Things has been suggested as a tool for introducing the topic of the Holocaust at the middle school or high school level, but with guidance and careful choices of literature, children at the elementary level can understand how fear and intolerance can help evil take root. Entry by Francesca the Librarian
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