Sunday, April 18, 2010

Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat?

Author Nancy Patz visited the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. While she was there, Patz saw a woman's hat, alone on display in a glass case as part of the Museum's Holocaust display. She drew the hat in her sketchbook and continued on her tour. Later, looking back on the visit, Patz saw her drawing and wondered about the woman who had worn the hat. Over time, Patz drew more pictures and wrote individual poems reflecting on who the woman was who had worn the hat. She soon realized that together the poems created a reflection of the woman, and through her, other victims of the Holocaust.

The book includes an extensive author's note at the end, as well as a Chronology of the Holocaust. The author includes her own drawings with actual photographs incorporated into the drawings - this is an excellent method of making the imagination blend into reality. It also allows for young children to think about the woman at whatever level they are capable of understanding. Here is a brief section of the poem:

I wonder
if she wore it
the day she left home the last time,
that cold, cold day in Amsterdam -
that cold, cruel day in Amsterdam
when the Jews were herded together
and arrested in the Square. (p. 10)

This small book was the 2003 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers. This award is given yearly to books which have outstanding Jewish content for children and teens. Visit the Association of Jewish Libraries for a more complete description of the award and a list of all winners.

TITLE: Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat?
AUTHOR: Nancy Patz
TYPE: Holocaust narrative, non-fiction
AWARD: 2003 Sydney Taylor Award
RECOMMEND: I can see many thoughtful uses of this slim meditation, both in the classroom and as a personal reflection.

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