The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson
|The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A memoir by one of the youngest people on Oskar Schindler's list of Jews saved from the Nazis. Simply, but evocatively and heartbreakingly told, this is something that should be read by children and adults alike.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 175||Date: August 2013|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster|
This is the memoir of one of the youngest people on Oskar Schindler's famous list of Jews saved from the Nazis during World War II. It opens between the wars, with Leon's family living in the small Polish town of Narewka. There wasn't much money but everyone was happy. Leon's father moved to Krakow in the hopes of making a better life and when Leon and his siblings eventually join him, you can feel the wonder of a little boy new to the big city.
And then the Nazis invade. Soon the Leysons have been moved to a ghetto. And then to a forced labour camp. It's horrific. But the Leysons are luckier than some. As a skilled machinist, Leon's father works in Oskar Schindler's factory. This means extra food. It also means that they won't be taken away on one of the trains to the death camps. Eventually, even little Leon is taken on by Schindler, standing on the box in the book's title so that he's tall enough to operate the machine.
Even working for Schindler, life for Leon's family is full of privation and danger. And not everyone in the family will make it.
Sadly, Leon Leyson didn't live to see his book published. He died in January 2013, just one day after his manuscript was received by his US editor. But the important thing is that he lived a long life after World War II ended, thanks to Oskar Schindler. He finished the education interrupted by the Nazis. He had a profession and a career. He fell in love, got married and had children and grandchildren whom he loved and who loved him back. All thanks to Oskar Schindler. And eventually, he came to terms with his past. These are things to be thankful for. And they are also things that make The Boy on the Wooden Box the perfect companion to The Diary of Anne Frank. In the middle of all that horror and darkness, there were pockets of hope and light.
I loved Leon's story. It's honestly and simply told. It paints a vivid picture of life in Poland before WWII and an equally vivid picture of the hell endured under the Nazis. But it never revels in suffering. Readers will understand exactly why Leon was reluctant to share his story in later life and will like him even more for his eventual decision to share it. It's honest and it's heartbreaking but it leaves you with a determination to do better, to be better. I hope that's testament enough.
Younger readers could also look at I Am David by Anne Holm or Then by Morris Gleitzman. Adults could look at the classic Maus by Art Spiegelman - in which tells the story of his father during the Holocaust through cartoons.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson at Amazon.com.
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