November 11, 2015
For adults and teens
Let the Celebrations Begin!
by Margaret Wild
illustrated by Julie Vivas
This is not a picture book for young children.
Based on a true story, it's about the women in a concentration camp who made toys for a children's party to celebrate their impending liberation. The pictures are of women and children with thin legs, shorn heads, and ragged clothes, but with faces and eyes that often shine with hope. Their expressions, combined with the pastel colours, are very nearly cheerful. It makes me wonder if the deeper meaning of the story will be lost on readers.
As the end notes state, the publisher [Omnibus (Australia) and Candlewick (U.S.)] wanted to emphasize the positive aspects of the story. This means that except for the title page, there's no sign of soldiers or barbed wire. Not surprisingly, the book has been controversial; the author herself thought it would be rejected. That it wasn't means that it at least deserves a look.