Sunday, August 1, 2010

Eli Remembers

Eli Remembers written by Ruth Vander Zee and Marian Sneider is illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. The story is based on Sneider's grandson, Ely Sandler, who took a trip to Eastern Europe to learn more about how his family had lived before and during the war.

Each year when his family gathered for Rosh Hashanah, Eli noticed that his great-grandmother lit seven candles and was sad. After she died, Eli's grandmother continued the tradition with the same sadness. When Eli asked his mother why it made the family sad, he was told some things are too difficult to talk about. (p. 5) When Eli was a bit older, his grandparents and parents took him to Lithuania to see when his family came from before the war. Near the end of their trip, the family traveled deep into the countryside to Ponar Forest. Walking into the forest, Eli finds a very large pit. His father tells him:
This is the grave of 80,000 Jews who were killed during World War II. They were force-marched night after night by the Nazis and ordered to stand around this pit. Then the soldiers shot their backs.

This is where his great-grandmother's father and six siblings were killed. Young Eli leaves seven roses in the pit in remembrance. He also tells his family that this will no longer be a secret because he will always remember. Just like his family did by lighting the seven candles.
The illustrations, from the cover to the final pages are hauntingly beautiful. The author also provides a brief historical note at the end of the book.

The publisher, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, provides a Teacher Resources guide with activities. This resource guide can be downloaded and printed.

TITLE: Eli Remembers
AUTHOR: Ruth Vander Zee & Marian Snieder
ILLUSTRATOR: Bill Farnsworth
TYPE: Holocaust narrative
RECOMMEND: I think this book can be used to illustrate the fate of Jews outside of the concentration camps as well as a remembrance for the 80,000 who died in the Ponar forest.
AWARDS: Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People (2008)

1 comment:

Emily said...

What a fascinating book- it's tough to find resources that talk about this subject in a way that's both sensitive and authentic. As a teacher I'm so glad I've found your blog and can share these resources with other teachers. Thanks.