Monday, March 25, 2013

Non-Fiction Monday: His Name was Raoul Wallenberg: courage, rescue and mystery during World War II

by Louise Borden. 136 p. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January, 2012. 9780618507559. (Purchased.)

Raoul Wallenberg may not be the first name that comes to mind when contemplating righteous gentiles of the Holocaust, but students of the Holocaust would do well to learn about him and this gorgeously designed biography introduces the man memorably. 

Mr. Wallenberg was born into a wealthy family in Sweden. He never knew his father, who died of cancer three months before he was born. His fraternal grandfather Gustaf Oscar Wallenberg, who was at one time Sweden's minister to Japan, influenced Raoul's life immensely. It was he who arranged for Raoul to become a "citizen of the world." It was Raoul, with his insatiable curiosity, appreciation for the arts and intense interest in history and people who fulfilled his grandfather's wishes. 

The pace of this verse biography is leisurely in the beginning, and accompanied by many photographs of family and places. It took me a while to get into the rhythm of the "verse." It seemed to me to be more chopped up and artfully arranged sentences. I did a lot of rereading before I adjusted. 

At times, I also wished for more detail, like more than one line about his father dying of cancer or the one line about his step-father, Frederik von Dardel. But this is a minor and purely personal quibble. 

Tension definitely ratchets during the last half as Borden describes Sweden's role during World War II and the plan to send Mr. Wallenberg to Hungary. This reader was awed by the audacity of Mr. Wallenberg as well as his courage and commitment to rescuing Jews. 

Several pages of back matter provide more information about Mr. Wallenberg and the family he left behind. The author got to visit Sweden and interview family and friends. She provides a two-page bibliography, recommends several video recordings.

This unusual biography may take a little hand-selling to students, but should be recommended for any social studies unit on the Holocaust or the subject of righteous gentiles.

Other blog reviews:
The Children's War
Nonfiction Detectives
Ms. Yingling Reads

Non-Fiction Monday is hosted this week by Anastasia at Booktalking#Kidlit.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing a Nonfiction Monday post this week, Brenda!