Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Eli Remembers

Eli Remembers

Ruth Vander Zee, Marian Snieder
Illustrator:  Bill Farnsworth 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2007   ISBN: 978-0802853097

Every year Eli celebrates Rosh Hashanah with his family. He loves going to his Great-grandmother Gussie's house to share the special day with her and everyone else. The one thing Eli does not understand is why his Great-grandmother cries when she lights the seven candles for the feast table. After Great-grandmother Gussie dies Eli notices that people are still sad at the Rosh Hashanah dinner table. No one will tell him why Grandpa Sam looks so unhappy. Isn't this supposed to be a happy time?

Then Eli's parents decide to take Eli and his grandparents to Lithuania so that they can all see the place where Great-grandmother Gussie lived. Eli sees the house where she grew up and the lake where she spent many summer days. He has a wonderful time eating new foods and playing with local children. And then his parents take him and his grandparents to the Ponar Forest and Eli finds out the secret that has been caused his family so much pain for so long.

This very moving book is a touching memorial for all the people who were killed by the Nazis in Lithuania during World War II. The authors show their readers that the pain of such events never completely goes away, and it is important for the next generation to understand what happened and to remember. With a simple and unaffected text, and evocative oil paintings, the creators of this book have produced a title that will strike a cord with readers of all ages.

The story in this book was based on the family story of one of the authors, Ruth Vander Zee.