How do we talk about this book?. This book is:. This book is: *a Verse Novel. This book is: *a Verse Novel *a Holocaust Novel. This book is: *a Verse Novel *a Holocaust Novel *(and also a Historical Novel).
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A Bit About Verse Novels: The poet who chooses this form fashions an over-arching narrative, making explicit the links between the individual poems and foregrounding the teleological structure of the whole. By highlighting the paths that lead from one poem to another, verse-novelists draw attention to the book as a constructed whole, with a pattern and a logic to its design. Similarly, verse-novels guide the reader from one poem to the next, privileging the plot of the collection and celebrating the way in which one poem leads (or doesn't seem to lead) to the next. It could be argued that novels-in-verse formalize the way we read a book of poetry: highlighting themes and motifs and articulating the connections between poems and the patterns at work in the book. It could, however, also be argued that the form teaches us only how to read a collection of lyric poems arranged as a chronological narrative and not the many collections that are arranged otherwise. We all know how crucial—and exciting—it is to find poetic connections and patterns. Harold Bloom defines criticism as "the art of knowing the hidden roads that go from poem to poem" (96) and Robert Frost reminded us fifty years ago, in "The Prerequisites" that "a poem is best read in the light of all other poems ever written" (815). Novels-in-verse encourage you to look for those connections…This genre is, unfortunately, too often abused; this year's examples by High and Appelt, along with earlier attempts by Mel Glenn, Sonya Sones, April Halprin Wayland, David Levithan, and Steven Herrick are almost entirely made up of verse that seems to have been composed according to the principle of "chopping your composition into line lengths" (4), which Pound so scathingly warns against. It is also true that the vast majority of teen novels-in-verse seem to exist in profound ignorance of what is excellent in "all other poems ever written," that while they draw attention to the connections between the poems in their own individual collections, they do not enter into conversation with the tradition outside the narrow confines of that textual world.
This review is from:
Upon receipt of this book and having read the back cover, my first thought was this: Is this appropriate reading material for any child, the horror of the holocaust?
Now, having finished, I find the story of thirteen-year-old Paula Becker affectively manipulated my emotions. But, most of the book left me with the feeling that Paula's emotions were as deadened as her poor sick ears were. Not only was the story poorly written, but it was not a true story, nor was it the personal experience of the author as the back cover led me to believe. Why take me or even a child on an emotionally nightmarish ride, only to find that there is no moral to the story, that there is no hope, no offer of a reason for this work of fiction to exist. If you are trying to evoke sympathy for the deaf or for the victims of the real holocaust, there is no need. The truth is indeed saddening and grotesque enough for that purpose.
There is a very simple and childlike view in this book of "poetry", which is why I believe this was marketed as a children's book. But the subject is far too dark. It is easy to capture a reader by the darkness of that era and the ideals of Nazi Germany. Most poignant was the foolish idea that "Nobody said why the doctors agreed to do it. Because nobody knew." It was because of the depth of the evil that existed therein.
"My parents, my grandparents and my sister, Clara, loved me even though I was Disabled." This is an absurdity. Imagine a disabled child reading this. I would not wish to introduce the notion that the child was loved even though, being disabled, she was not worthy of that love.
This work was merely an unoriginal, shabby-fiction, children's version, knock-off of a much heralded true diary from the same era. For example, I found that there was a severe deficit in the description of Paula's return to home. What about that first taste of apple strudel? What about how it felt to be in a warm tub after such a long, cold winter? These comments left me longing for more elaboration. It is clear here that the author had less than an appropriate level of imagination to relate this homecoming.
Many books about the horrors against humanity in the holocaust have claimed that "We must not forget, lest it happen again." Seemingly a good reason for a brief look, remembrance and prayer. But, disappointingly, there was none of that here either.
"T4" was not merely a form of euthanasia: it was murder, which was poorly described in the book as "a controversial procedure and sad for everyone", after what the author herself described as a "neutral definition of euthanasia". ????
If we are going to begin to vaccinate our children with "neutral definitions" of what can only be considered to be pure evil, are we not perpetrating the same crime upon them: that bombardment of what is at first unacceptable, but becomes acceptable as it is experienced over and over under the auspices of having a very good cause indeed?
At the very least, there is a very distinct need to have a disclaimer at the end of this story, particularly in a children's book, wherein is it noted that the horrors and depth of evil of the holocaust are only worth calling to memory as they are the worst evils perpetrated upon humanity by humanity -- and that they must never be allowed to occur again. Because for evil to continue and to flourish, a good man need merely do nothing... ????????
This book will take a child on an emotional roller coaster. It is depressing and worse yet, it is not even a true story. My original instinct was correct.
If you feel that your child needs to experience the real holocaust in their reading material, I suggest "The Diary of Anne Frank".
And then, there is always this:
Philippians 4:8 (KJV) - Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ?????
I have to disagree with your comment that, "Many books about the horrors against humanity in the holocaust have claimed that "We must not forget, lest it happen again." Seemingly a good reason for a brief look, remembrance and prayer. But, disappointingly, there was none of that here either. " What about: "Educating people is / The best tool we have / Against forgetting. / We must make sure / Nothing like T4 / Ever happens / Again. And so / My story told in / Poetry ends"?
I actually agree with a lot of your review -- I didn't like the book -- but I would like to point out that LeZotte does explain that T4 was definitely NOT euthanasia. In the book she says euthanasia is done for people who are suffering horribly with no chance of getting better, and it's usually agreed by the person and/or their family, whereas in T4 plenty of non-suffering disabled people were killed, often in horrible ways, and without the knowledge or consent of their families.
And then there is a more thoughtful, informed theoretical perspective, as discussed by a variety of Children’s Literature scholars. In “‘A’ is for Auschwitz: Psychoanalysis, TraumaTheory, and the ‘Children’s Literature of Atrocity,’” Dr. Kenneth Kidd makes a series of interesting points:1. “…the idea that young readers should be protected from evil and toward the conviction that they should be exposed to it, perhaps even endangered by it[;] it’s almost as if we expect reading about trauma to be traumatic itself-as if we think children can’t otherwise comprehend atrocity,” making trauma more personal than political.
2. “Holocaust writing would be unthinkable without the therapeutic ethos [of the progressive social movements of the 60s and 70s] that nurtured this progressive culture and formed its popular and institutional corrective…” BUT “What if psychoanalysis isn’t, in fact, the best treatment for trauma, but rather one of its privileged modes of presentation?”3. “…the Holocaust is at once history and the never-ending story, the primal scene forever relived and reconstructed. It is something to be spoken about but that remains inaccessible…Rather than coming to terms with trauma…we pass trauma along to the next person.” 4. Holocaust narratives are interpellative; this is HOW we talk about the Holocaust…establishing a shared relationship to the real, a sentimental collective memory. 5. Literature of atrocity often infantilizes victims.
3. Person with a disability as sinister and/or evil. This may be the most historically prevalent stereotype ranging from fairy tales with stooped witches who use canes to hunched-back kings. Captain Hook in Peter Pan is a classic example. 4. Person with a disability used as "atmosphere." Basically undeveloped as characters, persons with disabilities are often peripheral to the main action, perhaps as a blind musician or amputee beggar. The mentally retarded brother in Betsy Byar's Summer of the Swans serves merely as such a prop. 5. Person with a disability as "super crip." All too often, in order to be accepted both in children's literature and in real life, people with disabilities are put in positions of being over-achievers. Thus, people with disabilities are thought to be endowed with super powers, ranging from the paraplegic detective, Ironside, to social activist, Helen Keller. 6. Person with a disability as laughable. Just as there are ethnic jokes, so too have the media and children's literature made frequent use of this ploy as a gimmick to facilitate the plot. For example, the person who is visually impaired becomes the brunt of many jokes and pranks. This is a particularly insensitive portrayal of people with disabilities.