The Anne Frank Case: Simon Wiesenthal's Search for the Truth by Susan Goldman Rubin

anne-frankCindy: It’s no small feat to take the events of the Holocaust, Anne Frank’s life and diary, and Wiesenthal’s lifelong work as a Nazi War Crime hunter and present them in 40 pages in a form accessible to elementary students. In the capable hands of Rubin, though, The Anne Frank Case (Holiday House, 2009) does just that.

Wiesenthal was called to Linz, Austria in 1958 where a theater production of The Diary of Anne Frank was being disrupted by a group of teen Holocaust deniers. The teens were disputing the authenticity of the diary, and even, Anne’s existence. Wiesenthal began a five year search for the Gestapo officer who had arrested the Frank family and the others hidden in the Annex. Young readers learn the cursory facts of the events of Hitler’s reign, and also get a significant portrait of a heroic man who not only survived the Holocaust himself, but worked tirelessly and in poverty to bring justice to those who deserved it.

A solid choice for upper elementary students, this book will also find a niche in the middle school classroom as a read aloud supplement to the teaching of Anne’s diary or the events of World War II.

Lynn: Susan Rubin makes an excellent choice in framing her introduction to the Holocaust in Simon Wiesenthal’s careful methodical search for proof that Anne Frank’s diary was no hoax. It allows her to present the history and background material, the facts of the Holocaust and its horrors and Wiesenthal’s own experiences in a somewhat detached manner, as in constructing a court case and laying out proof. Another noteworthy feature is the information about the post-war resistance to uncovering the reality of the Holocaust and Wiesenthal’s important role in ensuring that the reality be understood. Bill Farnsworth’s haunting illustrations are a perfect accompaniment. Young readers will not miss the darkness that lies beneath the factual manner nor the sense that there is much more to learn and understand when they are older.

Cindy and Lynn: If you haven’t checked out the Nonfiction Monday roundup, click the logo below. Many bloggers are celebrating youth nonfiction with posts on Mondays. Rotating hosts compile blogger comments letting readers know who is blogging nonfiction each Monday. The host schedule is posted here so you know where to start each week.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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