Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beyond Courage: WWII Nonfiction for Teens

 Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust
Doreen Rappaport
NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book (2013)

(updated 1/29/13)
I think it fitting that this book is scheduled to be published on September 11--a day of significance for Americans. This book describes the countless ways teens and 20-somethings stood up to the terrorism of the Nazis during WWII.

I've read a lot of WWII-era fiction for middle grade and high school students (some of it quite well done: Code Name Verity, Between Shades of Gray, My Friend the Enemy, Number the Stars, etc.). In fact, each of those titles I just mentioned covers a different aspect: spies captured and held in Nazi-occupied France, the Russians' forced deportations of Eastern Europeans, Japanese-American tension in Northwest U.S., and concentration camps, respectively).

Beyond Courage takes us behind the scenes, as it were, and tells the true stories that aren't as familiar: a 12-year-old violinist taking notes back to the Jewish Resistance after his performances for Germans in a Nazi-occupied country, desperate escape attempts from cattle cars and camps, refugee camps set up in the middle of a forest, parents who had to send their young children on train to strangers, and many others. Divided in several sections, this book covers much more than concentration camps. It also includes photographs, a lengthy bibliography (including websites) and a nice chronology of important Nazi-related dates.

Beyond Courage will be a nice addition to a study of the era for middle or high school students. The information is not sensationalized and, although covering a tragic and harsh time in history, is presented in a way that will be palatable to older middle school students as well as high school students.

Book cover image from goodreads; ARC from netgalley

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