The Promise

The Promise


By Pnina Bat Zvi & Margie Wolfe, Illustrated by Isabelle Cardinal


Two brave sisters whose promise to their parents to “always, stay together” helped them survive Auschwitz.

The night that Rachel and Toby’s parents are taken away by the Nazis, they give their young daughters three gold coins with the instructions to “use these wisely to help save your lives.” They also ask the girls to promise that they will always stay together. This compelling true story follows the sisters as they confront the daily horrors of Auschwitz, protecting one another, sharing memories, fears, and even laughter—always together. But when Rachel becomes ill and is taken away by Nazi guards, likely forever, Toby risks her own life and uses the well-hidden gold coins to rescue her little sister.


Read The Whole Megillah interview with the book's authors and illustrator here.

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About the Illustrator

Isabelle Cardinal has been an illustrator for 17 years. Her style emerged through the years as her own, original way of doing digital collage. Using mostly a collection of Victorian era photos, her own textures, photos, and drawings, her work has a unique and mysterious feel. She lives in Trois-Rivières, Québec.

About the Authors

Pnina Bat Zvi is a journalist and radio host based in Tel Aviv. She, her sister Bilha, and her brother Yehudi are Rachel's children.

Margie Wolfe is a publisher of books for adults and children in Toronto. She and her sister Helen are Toby's daughters.

Product Information

  • Release: April 10, 2018

  • $18.95 Paperback

  • 32 Pages

  • Picture Book - Children's Nonfiction

  • 8.5 x 11

  • Ages 7-10 / Grades 3-6

  • Lexile: 520L Guided Reading: Y

  • ISBN: 9781772600582


  • Reflecting Diversity
    > Cultural & Ethnic Diversity

  • Character Education
    > Prejudice & Tolerance
    > Family & Friendship

  • History & Social Studies
    > WWII & The Holocaust


  • Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books of 2018, Canada

  • 2019-2020 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award - Finalist

Praise for The Promise

"Because Rachel and Toby were real people, young readers can empathize and sympathize, but the story does not try to help them understand the Holocaust: That is beyond human comprehension. Harrowing, moving, and filled with questions that cannot be answered but must be asked." - Kirkus Reviews *STARRED REVIEW

"With tightly paced scenes and tense dialogue, Zvi and Wolfe create a terrifying sense of immediacy that is extended in the photorealistic digital collages, which focus on faces, from the shouting guards and snarling dogs to the determined sisters. An unusual, powerful look at the horrors of life in the camps and the courage and resilience of those who survived." – Publishers Weekly

"[B]rings to life the horror that so many truly experienced during WWII. The fear, labor, defiance, and love are illustrated with full-page pictures that blend photos and drawings in grays, browns, and blues to express terror and hope. ... The sisters' use of their only worldly bribe the Nazis into allowing them to reunite with each other when one of them falls ill is a stunning story, and the extensive use of dialogue adds to the impact." - Booklist

"... a sensitive, sophisticated picture book that can be used for older children as well. Pnina Bat Zvi and Margie Wolfe have captured both the sense of terror the children lived with every moment as well as the reservoir of devotion and courage that enabled Toby to stand up to a guard.... The Promise tells a terrible story, but one that ends optimistically. It should be added to classroom collections and school libraries to help children learn about the past so society does prevent the rise of racism, nationalism and fascism as those who experienced the horrors of World War II intended. Highly recommended." - CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"The Promise is a heart-warming story about the power of love in the most difficult of times...It should be in the collection of every school and public library." - Resource Links

"Based on a true story, The Promise reveals just one significant but uncelebrated act of heroism during a time and place of brutality. It's a story that needs to be recognized and its characters acclaimed for their survival." - CanLit for LittleCanadians

“The authenticity of the story and family pictures taken in better times make it a compelling read. It is not an easy account for children to understand, but it is a profound one that will provoke discussion. It reflects the extremes of evil and sacrifice of which mankind if capable, and reveals a spark of compassion in even the harshest individual.” - Canadian Children’s Booknews