Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine

Suzie Eisfelder

This is the last book I wish to read from the pile I was given to place into little libraries near me. After today I’ll start placing them in libraries for others to read and enjoy. This book is a hard book to enjoy as it deals with the Holocaust and the death of the owner of the suitcase. But it’s an important story as it illustrates how poorly children were treated by the Nazis and how young some of them were when they died.

Fumiko Ishioka is a teacher in Japan. She runs the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center. While using the Holocaust to teach tolerance she reached out to the Auschwitz Museum for artifacts she could use to focus discussions. They sent her Hana’s suitcase as well as her name and date of birth. Ishioka was persistent in searching out more information about Hana. She managed to find Hana’s surviving brother, George, and wrote to him. This book is both the story of her search and also Hana’s story. It is told in a way that children will be able to learn and understand some of the horrors of the Holocaust.

The writing is clear and simple, without being simplistic. I found the stories to be nicely laid out, dovetailing well to create a seamless whole. I would have liked to have found out more about Hana’s parents, but this book is not about them. I’d also like to know George’s story, again, this book is not about him. George does feature in this book a little, in both parts of the story. It was wonderful to see him reconnect with his sister through the suitcase. The photos he’s supplied for the book help us to create a picture of both George and Hana.

I firmly suggest you read this with your young charges, it can only help to increase awareness of the issue of genocide. Here is a link for you.

I’m able to use this book for both the 2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge as sponsored by Book’d Out, and also the Dymocks Reading Challenge 2021. You can have a look at some of the other blogs participating in this 2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge.


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