Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 325

Picture Book: The Cats in Krasinski Square

Author: Karen Hesse

Illustrator: Wendy Watson

Summary: The cats of the title are the abandoned cats left after the Jews are placed in Warsaw, Poland’s ghetto during Nazi occupation. The young female narrator, who enjoys petting the cats, struggles to survive on the free side of the wall. She and her sister have managed to escape the ghetto. With other rebels, they get food to their starving friends behind the walls. Because she watches the cats, the narrator knows the openings in the wall where food can be passed. News comes that Resistance Fighters are arriving on trains with smuggled food stashed in their bags for those behind the wall. But The Gestapo knows of the plan and will be waiting with dogs to sniff out the food. The narrator has a clever counter move. They lure into baskets as many cats as possible, take the closed baskets to the train station, and spread out. Once the train arrives, The Gestapo releases their dogs. Before the dogs can find the hidden food, they are distracted by the many cats that have been let loose. Chaos ensues and those with hidden food are able to flee and quickly pass their food through or over the ghetto walls.

Hanna’s Comments: I like the way this story is written so that a very dark and scary situation is told in a light manner that even young children can handle and enjoy. The suffering Jews behind the wall are only seen from afar. The illustrations are beautiful and help the subject seem less intense than reality. The political and religious issues are not in the narrative so you can avoid those difficult topics if you prefer or expand on them if that suits your purposes and is age appropriate. In the end papers, you’ll find an Author’s Note and a Historical Note.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Scholastic, 2004 

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Non-fiction, Post 2k

PBT Topics this Book connects with: abuse/abuse of power, action, adaptation/assimilation, animals, bonds/connections, bravery/courage, caring/tending, challenges, chaos/disorder, commitment, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, cruelty, danger, dependence/interdependence, enemies, Europe, evil, exile/separation/walls, feasting/food/hunger/nutrition, helping, heroes, injustice, leadership/servant leadership, mission, obstacles, outreach, partners/teamwork, poverty, power, prisons/prisoners, rebellion, risking, secrets, social justice, surprise

Scripture Connections: The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. (Psalm 103:6); a righteous person knows the rights of the poor (Proverbs 29:7); let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24); …do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8); as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of elementary students who are about to engage in an outreach project involving feeding the poor or to supplement a lesson on the social justice issue of access to healthy food.