Lisa Vegan's Reviews > Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin

Fireflies in the Dark by Susan Goldman Rubin
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's review
Jan 22, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: childrens, history, non-fiction, biography, orphaned-and-quasi-orphaned-kids, reviewed, holocaust
Read on July 13, 2010

This is a terrific non-fiction short chapter book for children about the Terezin concentration camp, and its focus is on Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, who selflessly taught art to the children imprisoned there (and when she was deported filled her luggage with art supplies because she knew children would be at the camp). It also functions as an excellent introduction to the Holocaust in general.

This is a book for young people so the long list in the References section in the back of the book, with a very handy note that an asterisk (*) indicates works suitable for young readers was a nice surprise.

There is included some of the artwork done by the children and by Dicker-Brandeis and the occasional other adult in Terezin. They function as the illustrations for this book. There are also a few photos of the children and of Dicker-Brandeis.

The Contents are:
1. Arriving at Terezin
2. L410, a Home for Girls
3. The Secret Schools
4. Everyone Was Hungry
5. Drawing Dreams
6. Fireflies
7. Fooling the World
8. Telling the World

Even though it’s made very clear the dangers faced, including the murders the Nazis committed, as well as the hardships faced by those who were confined in Terezin, I feel that this is a fine introductory book to the Holocaust for young, although not too young, readers.

It’s so poignant. The pictures where the artist is known, there’s their name and their date of birth, and if applicable their date of death. So often, their date of death happens when they’re between the ages of 10-15. It’s horrifying.

So many survivors are mentioned that it’s a bit of a shock when, toward the end of the book, the reader is informed that of the 15,000 children who passed through Terezin, only 100 survived. More horror.

I’ve read several books, more for adults than for children, about Terezin, also called Theresienstadt, and this is as good a book as any of them. It’s a fine addition to the genre. Worthy of 5 stars because it excelled at what it set out to do.
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Comments (showing 1-8)

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message 8: by Luann (new) - added it

Luann Added to my TBR. Thanks, Lisa.

Lisa Vegan Luann wrote: "Added to my TBR. Thanks, Lisa."

Luann, if you get to it, I'll be interested in what you think of it.

Lisa Vegan Chandra wrote: "Wow! Sounds really good Lisa! I'd never heard of this person/story."

Chandra, I knew about her but not so much. It's a great book but not yet for Izzy.

Lisa Vegan Slavery is enough for now. I'm one who believes in introducing genocide talks until age 11 or even 12, unless the kids ask of course because they've somehow found out about it.

Miriam I think in school we started talking about the Holocaust in 5th or 6th grade, but I know I was already familiar with it at that point.

Lisa Vegan I didn't learn about it, if I recall correctly, until my mother gave me a copy of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl when I was 11, in the sixth grade. In no grade was the subject covered I depth in school.

Terri Lynn I just read it and I am crazy in love with this woman. Imagine not packing comforts for herself but art materials for the kids in the camp. Other teachers were sometimes making kids pay for academic lessons with that maggot-infested black bread but she refused to do so. She is my idea of a real hero. She lived out her values.

Lisa Vegan Terri Lynn, Thanks for reminding me of this book. I agree. Life and death too.

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