Friday, November 14, 2008

Angel Girl

Angel Girl, written by Laurie Friedman and illustrated by Ofra Amit, is a beautifully displayed picture book, based on a tragic, yet hopeful true story. I saw that it's been nominated for a Cybil award and rightly so, but be prepared for a difficult conversation with the kiddos after reading this one.

Herman is a young Jewish boy sent to live in a Nazi work camp during World War II. He is separated from his mother, the only family he has left, he is starving, sick, and losing his will for life. While working by a fence one day, a young girl appears on the other side, a girl who begins bringing Herman an apple every day for him to eat. With that apple comes hope and compassion, Herman soon regains his zest for life.

Years later, after the war is over and Herman is a young man, he moves to America and is soon introduced to a young woman whom he quickly falls in love with. Herman has now formally met his Angel Girl, the girl who gave him apples so long ago and when the couple realizes who each is, their belief in hope and promises is unmatchable.

I was impressed with the beauty in such a tragic book, both in the sadness of the writing and the haunting aspects of the illustrations, however this picture book comes with a warning from Miss Amanda. It is written on an incredibly difficult subject and one that is inevitably going to raise questions from the children that read it or have it read to them. It’s a great ice breaker to teach those kids about some history, but just be aware of what you are reading them before you are in a discussion you weren’t quite ready for!

Ultimately, I will recommend Angel Girl to everyone, as it is, in my opinion, certainly a must read. The author and the real-life couple the book is based on are wonderfully compassionate individuals, which shines through the pages of this simple, short book. Loved it!

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