By Kathy Kacer
A story of hope and laughter in the midst of the horror of a WWII ghetto.
It's a dangerous time for thirteen-year-old Clara and her family. They have just been imprisoned in Terezin (Terezinstadt), a ghetto in a medieval town near Prague - which was built to show the world how "well" the Nazis were treating Jews during the Second World War. Here Clara encounters hunger, disease and filthy living conditions. Even worse is the constant threat of being deported to concentration camps where the possibility of death awaits her.
But in the midst of the horror of these conditions Clara makes strong friendships with Hanna, a girl from home, and Jacob, an older boy who helps her learn about life in the ghetto. She also participates in classes where education, music and poetry flourish. Life in the ghetto takes an unusual turn for the young people when a children's opera, Brundibar, written by an inmate, allows them moments of joy and laughter. With a real escape being planned by Jacob, a family tragedy to confront, and an inspection tour by the Red Cross at hand, Clara has some life-challenging decisions to make.
Inspired by real events, particularly by performances of Brundibar, this compelling work for readers ten and up includes historical photographs of the ghetto and of the children on the opening night of the opera. A review of the performance written by a young boy in an underground ghetto newspaper adds further depth to the book.
About the Author
Kathy Kacer’s books have won a number of awards, including the Silver Birch, the Red Maple, the Hackmatack, and the Jewish Book Award. A former psychologist, Kathy now travels the globe speaking to children and adults about the importance of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. Kathy lives in Toronto with her family.
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Release: April 3, 2001
5.25 x 7.5
Ages 9-13 / Grades 4-8
Guided Reading: Y
> Prejudice & Tolerance
> Historical Fiction
History & Social Studies
> War & Conflict
Awards for Clara's War
2002 Red Maple Award Winner - Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading
2002 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award Nominee
2001 Sydney Taylor Book Award - Notable Book
Praise for Clara's War
"Kacer doesn’t spare readers from the sheer horror of life in the ghetto or from the prospects of what lay beyond Terezin... But in telling the story of Brundibar and giving readers a glimpse of the incredible artistic life that was secretly fostered in the ghetto, Kacer’s novel is also a story of hope, courage, and humanity in the face of overwhelming suffering and adversity." - Quill & Quire
"This portrait of life in Terezin through the eyes of a girl in her early teens is spellbinding. The author conveys the reality of Clara’s experiences, her uncertainties, dreams and hardships realistically, but not frighteningly." - The London Jewish Community News