Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Always Remember Me

Always Remember Me

Marisabina Russo
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2005   ISBN: 978-0689869204

Every Sunday Rachel goes to spend some time at her Oma's house. After Oma, her daughters, and their families have a meal together Rachel likes look at Oma's photo albums with her. Oma has two photo albums and until today Rachel has only really looked at some of the first one and the second one. This time however Oma decides that Rachel is old enough to see the entire first album. She is ready to share her story with Rachel.

Oma lived in Germany with his husband and her three children. She had three daughters called Sabina, Anni, and Emmy. Oma's family was Jewish and when Hitler took over the government all kinds of anti-Semitic laws were passed. Jews were not allowed to go to the park or the zoo and Sabina's boyfriend, Jacob, was not allowed to attend medical school. Because of this Sabina and Jacob decided to go to Italy where they hoped they would not be persecuted because they were Jews.

Not long after Oma decided that she and Anni and Emmy should leave Germany. It was not safe to remain there. At the last minute Anni decided to stay in Germany so that she could marry her boyfriend. Oma decided to stay with her and Anni went to America alone.

Life for Oma and Anni got worse and worse and then, finally, they were both taken to concentration camps.

What is special about this picture book is that the author gives her readers plenty of opportunity to get to know Oma and her family. She takes her time telling their story and we come to feel a connection with them. It is all the more shattering, thereforem, to hear how they suffered and to learn that they experienced so much loss.

What makes the story even more powerful is to learn that the tale in this book is based on the real story of the author's family. The stories Annie's Oma tells her were the stories that the author herself heard during Sunday family get-togethers.

With obvious pride, love, and respect, Marisabina Russo tells the story of her family's courage and their determination to survive and to remember.