Friday, March 27, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 342

Picture Book: The Whispering Town

Author: Jennifer Elvgren 

Illustrator: Fabio Santomauro

Summary: In their basement, Anett and her parents are hiding two Jews from the Nazis in 1943 Denmark. When Anett brings their breakfast down, she relies on their whispers in the dark to guide and comfort her. As she desires items for them from the town’s merchants, she whispers, “We have new friends. Then the merchants give a few items. Each time Anett ventures outside, she sees Nazi soldiers looking for hidden Jews. The Nazis threaten to arrest anyone who is hiding Jews. Because the Nazi presence is increasing, the Jews must leave at night with no local escort to the harbor where a boat will be waiting for their escape. How will they find their way? Anett remembers how the whispers guide her to the basement and suggests that the townspeople, along the desired route, stand at their doorways and use whispered voices to guide the Jews to the harbor. This plan works. “This way,” is repeatedly whispered and guides the Jews as they walk to the harbor.

Hanna’s Comments: The Author’s Note in the back of the book gives the historical context of this story and explains that it is based on true events in the small fishing village of Gilleleje, Denmark. I have considered featuring a book on Anne Frank this month because it is the 70th anniversary of her death. However, I couldn’t find a picture book that balanced her heartbreaking story with her own statements of hope and faith in people. I encourage you to continue to look for that kind of book in your local library or simply tell Anne Frank’s story as a supplement and contrast to the book featured here. Anne Frank hid in an upper set of rooms in Amsterdam, Holland. Tweens and teens easily identify with Anne Frank’s story. There are reference books about her that will help you tell her story and show pictures. Also, there are many videos including the only known video of Anne Frank. She is looking out a window. Find it on It is quite moving. Miep Gies, one of the protectors of Anne Frank and her family, has been interviewed many times. You'll find her story on Youtube as well. It is one of courage, humility, and sacrifice.   

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Kar-Ben Publishing, 2014

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet, Audio CD 

PBT Category: Fresh off the Press, Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book connects with: abuse/abuse of power, action, adaptation/assimilation, aliens/immigrants/refugees/strangers, anxiety/worry, body/body of Christ, bravery/courage, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, caring/tending, challenges, commitment, communication, community, cooperation, cruelty, danger, darkness/evening/night, dependence, difficulties, encouragement, enemies, ethics, Europe, evil, exile/separation/walls, fear, goodness, helping, hiding/isolation, homelessness, hospitality, listening, neighbors, partners/teamwork, presence, prisons/prisoners, problems/problem solving, protecting/protection, rebellion, resisting evil, risking, safe place/sanctuary, secrets, sharing, unity   

Scripture Connections: I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more (Psalm 71:14); abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good (Romans 12:9); welcome one another… for the glory of God (Romans 15:7); if one member suffers, all suffer together (1 Corinthians 12:26a); now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book and consider telling the story of Anne Frank to older elementary or youth who are learning about concepts of faith, hope, and reliance on others in difficult times. This book also easily connects with spiritual concepts such as discernment, particularly discernment through the guidance of others, and the power of community.   

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