Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 165

Picture Book: Gifts from the Enemy

Author: Trudy Ludwig

Illustrator: Craig Orback

Summary: Based on Alter Wiener’s memoir of his Holocaust experience, this is a beautiful but heartbreaking story of methodical cruelty and unexpected kindness. During one of Wiener’s stints in the 5 prison camps he was forced to endure, a complete stranger, a German worker, repeatedly and secretly left food for him. He believes it saved him, for it gave him the energy and hope to survive. It also caused him to question his own prejudices. If a German could be so kind, then how could he believe all Germans were his enemy? The story ends with him stating as his most important lesson: “There are the kind and the cruel in every group of people. How those you meet in life treat you is far more important than who they are.”

Hanna’s Comments: The subject here is harsh, but the story is powerful and important. It encourages listeners to question how they might act is similar circumstances as both victim and enemy. The Holocaust was a time in which too many Christians did nothing to save the many being killed and victimized. One way we can prevent a repetition of this kind of systematic negligence is to openly talk about this difficult history and our obligations as humans and as lovers of God. The back of the book includes an afterward from Alter Wiener, a bit about the Holocaust and WWII, a vocabulary list, questions for discussion, and a list of recommended activities for readers.

Publisher & Date of Publication: White Cloud Press, 2014

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 7 and up, 2nd and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet

PBT Category: Fresh off the Press, Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abuse/abuse of power, action, blessings, bravery/courage, brokenness, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, choices/decisions, commitment, cruelty, danger, death/loss/grief, dependence/interdependence, disobedience/obedience, encouragement, enemies, ethics, Europe, evil, exile/separation/walls, feasting/food/hunger/nutrition, found, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, goodness, gratitude/thankfulness/thanksgiving, hatred, helping, heroes, kindness, mystery, prisons/prisoners, rebellion, reassurance, religious differences, risking, Sabbath, sacrifice, savior/saving, secrets, servant hood/service/serving, sharing, survival, treasure, victims

Scripture Connections: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me (Psalm 23:4); woe to those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20); when you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me (Matthew 25:40)

Idea(s) for Application: Use this book in a program for older elementary, tweens, or teens that focuses on difficult choices, random acts of kindness, or opposing evil. 

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