The Bookweaver

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Bachrach, Susan D./United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust

     There is no shortage of books and materials on the Holocaust so I almost didn’t bother reading this book.  I do recommend it as scaffolding for The Diary of Anne Frank or other Holocaust literature because it presents a balanced view of all aspects of the Holocaust.  No, I don’t mean that it justifies anything!  It does explain the circumstances that allowed it to happen such as the post-World War 1 economy and shows examples of how people, especially children, were brainwashed.  It also discusses the groups other than the Jews who were persecuted during the Holocaust.  There are a lot of photos of families who died in the Holocaust taken before the war, which I think is important because it emphasizes the individuals and the fact that they were everyday people, just like the people we all know.  I think when only pictures from the camps are shown the people become too distanced and start to seem like an “other,” which is just what Hitler wanted.  In a similar vein, sidebars using I.D. photographs trace the circumstances of 20 different individuals throughout the book, which also personalizes the story.  Finally, the pictures accurately convey the story without being too graphic for younger children.

Giblin, James Cross
When the Plague Strikes:  The Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS

Illustrated by David Frampton

The really exceptional thing about this nonfiction book is that it ties toghether possibly/probably the 3 worst diseases the world has ever known, showing how some of the same things people say about AIDS/HIV, such as that it's a "punishment from God," were said about the Bubonic Plague and Smallpox.  It also shows how trial and error were used to contain and eventually eradicate disease, which also illustrates what is happening to AIDS/HIV.  Sometimes, you can say things through history that comes off sounding political if you stay in the present tense.  This book tells the story of the Bubonic Plague, Smallpox, and AIDS and lets the reader draw his own conclusion.

The book is interesting and well written, yet not too difficult.  I read it in one day in approximately 2 to 3 hours total.  It is reviewed in O'Dean's Great Books for Boys, which is where I learned of it.

Recommendation: Middle school or as a fast read or reluctant high school students


Murphy, Jim 
An American Plague: the true and terrifying story of the yellow fever epidemic of 1793

This nonfiction book is very similar to Fever 1793. So similar, in fact, that it is hard to distinguish between the two except that Anderson couches the events in the story of Mattie, her fictional heroine, and Murphy tells the story without the narrative. Murphy does an excellent job of including a variety of aspects of the epidemic, including the contributions of Philadelphia's Free African Society and the few who put their own money on the line to try to control the epidemic and govern the city. Murphy also adds some suspense to the story by not explaining how the epidemic is spread until the end so the reader is as in the dark as the residents of Philadelphia concerning how to best control and treat the illness.

Email me with your comments, suggestions, and experiences.
At this time, I am not posting any materials that I have not personally reviewed, but I can always use more ideas for my notebook.