The Cats in Krasinski Square
Illustrated by Wendy Watson
Ages 5 and up
Scholastic Press, 2004, 0-439-43540
The girl discovers that in the ruins of her city and after she has lost so much, there are still gifts to be found; for the cats, who have also lost those who loved and tended for them, have become her friends. She cannot give them much for food is scarce at this time and people are going hungry, but she does offer them affection and companionship. They return her warmth and it sustains her.
She needs this for this is a time of great hardship. The mighty German army has control of her city, of Warsaw. Her people, the Jews, have been separated and cut off from the world by a high wall. They are imprisoned in a terrible place which is called the Ghetto, with very little food, fresh water, and medicine. The girl and her sister Mira have escaped beyond the wall but they have not forgotten those who have been left behind. They and others on the outside have a plan to get food and supplies to those who are trapped inside the Ghetto.
Just when all their plans are in place and are ready to be implemented they learn that the German’s have discovered everything and are on their way to intercept the food and those who are carrying it. Then the girl comes up with a plan to save and it involves that cats who live about Krasinski Square.
Karen Hesse has created yet another book which is incredibly moving and which, with perfectly chosen and minimal text, carries us back to a time and place which was full of great fear and great courage. It is a tribute to the men and women and children who risked their lives to ease the suffering of others who were trapped in the Ghetto of Warsaw.
Wendy Watson’s luminous art in soft and muted colors are a powerful accompaniment for the text.
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