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An Edge of the Seat Mentor Text + a Book Giveaway

A review copy of this book was provided to me by Schwartz & Wade Books. Information about the book giveaway can be found at the bottom of this post.
As an observant Jew, I will observe Yom Kippur, which begins today at sundown.  The Days of Awe, which is a ten day period that begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur, is a time for introspection, where Jews think about the year that has passed, make amends for sins they’ve committed, and to find ways to be a better person in the year to come.  Like many other Jews, I will be attending services with family tomorrow night and for most of the day on Saturday.

When I lived in Manhattan I had the pleasure and privilege of being a member of B’nai Jeshurun, or BJ, an egalitarian synagogue located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  One of the many things I loved about BJ was the tradition of inviting a Holocaust survivor to speak to the congregation after the Torah service on Yom Kippur morning.  For years, I remember listening to first person accounts of the atrocities that had fallen upon congregants of the synagogue when they were children living in Europe.  While the descriptions of their experiences always made me sick to my stomach, there overall message was always one of hope since they were, after all, addressing us in person.

My husband and I are no longer members of B’nai Jeshurun since we don’t live in New York.  While we’ve talked about bringing our daughter to high holiday services there when she gets older, that’s many years off.  Therefore, since the synagogue I attend on Yom Kippur does not bring in a Holocaust survivor to address the congregation I make sure to do something that pays tribute to the memory of those who perished during the Holocaust every year just prior to Yom Kippur.

This year, a picture book has crossed my desk that allows me to pay tribute to those who lived during the Holocaust.  Marisabina Russo’s new book I Will Come Back for You: A Family in Hiding During World War II is the story of a Jewish family of four who lived in Rome together until the father was ordered to move to a small village in the mountains.  While the mother and children were allowed to visit the father on weekends.  While the father was allowed to come and go from the inn where he was detained as he pleased, he had to be there for roll call each morning.  Once news spread that the men were going to be rounded up and taken to a concentration camp in Germany, the children’s father decided to run away and hide.  He promised his daughter that he’d return when the war was over.  After his disappearance, the children’s mother was questioned about her husband’s disappearance.  She was threatened with being taken away too, but due to the cleverness of some quick-thinking friends, the mother was not taken away by the police, but she, too, had to go into hiding.

That’s all I’ll say about the plot of the book.  I don’t want to give away anymore of the story since this book keeps readers on the edge of their seats.  As I read it, I wanted to know what was going to happen to the mother, the father, and to the children who were left with virtual strangers after both of their parents went into hiding.  Russo captivates readers with authentic dialogue that moves the story forward, rich descriptions, and detailed illustrations.  Hence, this book can be used as a mentor text in an elementary writing workshop to teach students how to write in a way that will make readers want to devour the story.  In addition to being a useful mentor text for writing, it’s a story that teaches about the Holocaust by teaching kids about what it means to have courage in a time of despair and about the kindness of strangers.

Finally, I’ve saved the best nugget of information for last.  I Will Come Back for You: A Family in Hiding During World War II is a true story from Russo’s own family.  The book contains a detailed afterword where Russo shares the true events and the real people that shaped this book.  In addition, the book’s end pages contain photographs of a few of the book’s characters before and after the war.

Giveaway Information:

  • Thank you to Schwartz & Wade Books for agreeing to sponsor a giveaway of one copy of I Will Come Back for You: A Family in Hiding During World War II.

  • To win a copy of the book please leave a comment about this post, in the comments section of this post by Saturday, October 15th, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST. A random drawing will take place on Sunday, October 16th and the winner’s name will be announced in a blog post later that day.

  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address and have my contact at Schwartz & Wade send the book out to you.  Please note: Your e-mail address will not be published online.

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

81 thoughts on “An Edge of the Seat Mentor Text + a Book Giveaway Leave a comment

  1. I love using mentor texts with my third graders that tap the experiences and emotions of authors or their characters. When we can glean from the very things that make us human, we become better people and stronger writers. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. My favorite books are those that tell of the courage people shared during the times of war. I especially like to read about this time in history. Thank you for sharing this new title with us. In addition, we’ve been working in our school district with the new Common Core Standard RL2, and this book would be a nice fit for a mentor text to teach that standard. I’m excited to read it myself.

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  3. I am moved by this review. It is so important that these stories continue to be passed through the generations. Noone should forget those who suffered or paid the ultimate sacrifice simply because of their beliefs. As a special education teacher, I am grateful to have picture books to help explain important events in history in a way that they can understand.

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  4. My daughter was so fascinated with the holocaust in 4th and 5th grade, she studied intensely, and so did I. Now that I am teaching 4th graders, I am always looking to expand their knowledge base and pique their interest in history. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention, it is definitely one worth have on an active bookshelf.

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  5. What a great way to start a unit for any grade on the Holocaust. Love the current literature that deals with topics that are sometimes difficult for children to understand, and brings it to their level.

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  6. This book sounds like a great addition to historical fiction about the Holocaust. I have used Number the Stars and The Big Lie: A True Story by I. Leitner and The Butterfly by P. Polacco, which are all wonderful texts as well. It is great to have a new book to introduce to my students! Thank you for sharing it!

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  7. Never forget is a phrase I often quote in social studies. The book sounds like a wonderful mentor text to raise awareness of one of history’s darkest periods. With different interest groups lobbying to have reference to Holocaust removed from our history books, it is important to raise awareness in our young readers about these times.

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  8. This book looks amazing and it sounds like a great addition for younger children. My own children have both read several books on the holocaust throughout their school lives but what an impact this will leave on younger children – not to mention the teachers, parents, etc. who use this book. Thank you for bringing this book to our attention.

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  9. I will need to add this to my children’s library. While they are a little young yet, this would be a great intro for them when I teach them about the holocaust and how it affected my own grandfather and his family. He survived but many in his family did not. Thank you for finding this book!

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  10. Thank you for sharing this amazing story with us. I have been looking for a story about the holocaust to share with my sixth graders that I could also use as a writing or reading strategy mentor text. How perfect!

    Jayme

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  11. Thank you for telling us about this book! I will be on the look out for it because its one I want to add to my collection of Holocaust stories.

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  12. As a child I, too, went to synagogue named B’nai Jeshurun but this one was located in New Jersey. I am always looking for excellent books that share the story of the holocaust and this one sounds excellent. I appreciate the recommendation.

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  13. What grade level would you say for this? I have a large collection of Holocast PBS that I share with my eighth graders and this sounds like a “must-add.”

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    • Diane:

      The book is recommended for ages 4-8, but personally, I think it’s more appropriate for ages 7 and up. Therefore, you can totally use this text with your students.

      Hope that helps,
      Stacey

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  14. This sounds amazing and would be a wonderful book to use in addition to other texts that we study around the Holocaust. I love your suggestions for how to use it as a mentor text. I have been using many of your suggested mentor texts with my students this year and the results have been amazing. I am excited to get my hands on this book! Thank you once again!!

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  15. Teaching about the Holocaust is a delicate subject to teach, although no matter how delicate , it would be unjust for teachers not to teach our children an awareness of this important “event” in our history. Thank you for sharing this book.

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  16. Thank you for sharing the post. That story sounds like a really powerful way for students to learn about the holocaust in a student-friendly kind of text.

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  17. Through different topics, we often have students study the Holocaust at our school. Sometimes they do this because they are also studying war and why it happens; sometimes they have relatives who have died in one of the camps. For whatever reason, I find it important to find some literature that gives hope for this time. Thank you for telling us about this book.

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  18. Thank you as always for sharing great mentor texts for writing. It’s so good to ‘change up’ the read alouds in class and find specific books for content area work. Keep the suggestions coming! 🙂

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  19. I have always read all I could about the Holocast but always struggled with finding the right book to share with elementary students. I would love to own this book to use in my writing workshop and reading workshop.

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  20. I love texts that sound like a fiction story…and then surprise you at the end when they reveal they’re true. My students and I have been reading many of these types of texts this year…and it sounds like this one needs to be in the mix.

    Thank you for sharing!

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  21. I’m always looking for examples of “edge of your seat” writing that my 5th grade students can relate to. Thank you for sharing this one!

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  22. The holocaust is always a hard topic to teach young students. It’s especially challenging to get kids to truly understand the deep loss and pain felt by people during this time. It would be great to have a resource to accompany my upcoming holocaust workshop training! 🙂

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  23. I work with urban students and we are just now beginning to talk about racism, and that leads us to moving beyond just race, but religion, sex etc. I know that some of the best stories even for this age are picture books. They tell a story in a personal way, much as my own students will do at the end of the year when they write their middle school memoir. Thanks for sharing this book, it will be one I add to my collection.

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  24. I’m thrilled that Russo chose to write a book on such a thought provoking subject for our children. Sounds like this book not only captivates readers, but deeply nudges their thinking as well. Thanks for sharing!

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  25. I teach in a very unicultural K-8 school. I feel it is extremely important to teach my students about the myriad of lives lived outside of their small world. Engaging, interesting books that make them think critically is a huge part of this process. Thanks for the heads up about this resource.

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  26. Sounds like a book for text-to-text connections with Eve Bunting’s Gleam and Glow. On another level it can be connected to Tatiana Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key. As a Jew, living in Cape Town South Africa, it speaks to me on many levels. I’d love to share it with the teachers I train and their students.

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  27. I’m an elementary school teacher and am always interested in texts that teach, and remind us of what has happened in history. I’m excited there is such a book out. Our students need to hear this story, and so do I!

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  28. We are always in search of powerful historical fiction picture books to use in our integrated social studies and ELAR classes. This sounds like another great title!

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  29. We are currently introducing a narrative writing unit with our fifth graders. I have been spending time collecting powerful picture book stories to use with my older readers, and this one seems like a perfect fit. Thank you for the excellent review!

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  30. I would love to read this book!! I teach about the Holocaust, and am always looking for quality, age appropriate material. My husband and I both have relatives who fled mainland Europe because of Jewish persecution, so this has personal significance for me as well.

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  31. While not Jewish, I am a crusader to teach about the Holocaust so that such behavior will not happen again. M y father , as a soldier, helped liberate several camps in WWII. To honor hisory as well as tthose who experienced this travesty, I would love to share this nook
    with my elementary classes

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  32. Thank you for sharing this book. There are so many novels that students read about the Holocaust, starting with a picture book like this will help with background knowledge in addition to what was already mentioned about being used as a mentor text for writing.

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  33. Thanks for sharing this story with us! I have a fascination with the Holocaust. I cannot believe so many people had to endure such hatred and pain. I am in awe at the bravery of the Jews during this tough time in history. I will definitely add this story to my “Books I just have to have” list!
    Jennifer

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  34. Your writing resonated with me. I have such a hard time wrapping my head around the holocaust. In 1999 I deployed to Germany for a short tour. While there I went to Dachau. I had known about the atrocities before. There was a map on the wall when you enter that impacted me. It was a map of Europe with white dots. Each dot was a concentration camp. I could not believe how many there were and they weren’t just in Germany. It made an impact on me. Thank you for sharing your memories of listening to survivor stories.

    http://windows2mylife.blogspot.com

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  35. Wow! This sounds like the kind of story that kids would want to read because it’s based on a true event. It brings alive the author and history; history is now and it happened to real people. Thanks for sharing this post and for leaving me on the edge of my seat wanting to know more!

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