It’s A to Z time! The letter K is next!
The Cats in Krasinski Square
By Karen Hesse
Illustrated by Wendy Watson
Scholastic Press, 2004
This poignant story is based on a real event during World War 2. It takes place in Warsaw, Poland after the Gestapo (German State Police) rounded up all the Jews in Warsaw and surrounding towns and crowded them into a small area called the Ghetto. They built a brick wall around the Ghetto to keep the Jews in and the Aryans (non-Jewish whites) out. These people were sick and starving. The book tells the story of a little girl and her older sister who escaped the Ghetto and survive on the other side of the wall. She tells it this way, “I wear my Polish look, I walk my Polish walk. Polish words float from my lips and I am almost safe, almost invisible….”
Every day she goes to Kransinski Square to pet the cats that have been abandoned because of the War. She has no food to share with them but they survive on mice. The come to her for love and affection. They have also shown her ways in and out of the Ghetto through holes in the wall.
She and her sister, together with friends are determined to get food into the Ghetto but the Gestapo has found out and somehow they must outsmart the soldiers to help their friends and kinsmen behind the high wall. The cats of Krasinski Square play an integral part in this plan.
This book is a good way to broach the subject of the Holocaust with children. It vaguely describes the horrors of the War and provides a note of hope at the end.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws for the many lessons to be learned.