Poems of the Terezin Ghetto
Candlewick Press (MA), Hardcover, 9780763647278, 102pp.
Publication Date: August 9, 2011
Hitler hailed Terezin (Theresienstadt) as a haven for artistic Jews, when in reality the Czech concentration camp was little more than a way station to the gas chambers. In his second book inspired by devastating history, acclaimed poet Paul B. Janeczko gives voice to this heartrending creative community: its dignity, resilience, and commitment to art and music in the face of great brutality. The many memorable characters he conjures include a child who performs in the camp's now famed production of Brundibar, a man who lectures on bedbugs, and a boy known as "Professor," who keeps a notebook hidden in his shoe. Accented with dramatic illustrations by prisoners, found after WW II, Janeczko's spare and powerful poems convey Terezin's tragic legacy on an intimate, profoundly moving scale.
Nakedly stark accounts of circumstances unimaginable to most people today outside the pages of powerful writing like Janeczko's. Somewhat disturbing imagery makes this book most suitable for mature readers, but its intimate glimpses of life inside the Holocaust will likely rank it among the most worthwhile teen reads for years to come.
—Library Media Connection (starred review)
Janeczko draws on factual records to imagine fictional characters, who narrate each poem in this searing collection. The inmates speak in spare, accessible free verse, and the plain words contrast with the enormity of their personal heartbreak, cruelty, and loss. ...Together, the images and the poems capture unforgettable truths