Publisher's Note:  

In March 2000, a suitcase arrived at a children's Holocaust education center in Tokyo, Japan. Hana Brady was written on the outside. Children who saw the suitcase on display were full of questions and the director decided to find the answers.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Albert Whitman & Co.

Hana's Suitcase

by Karen Levine

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Overall Review:  

“In their early years no one really noticed or cared that they were different. Soon, though, the fact that they were Jews would become the most important thing about them.”

In Hana’s Suitcase author Karen Levine painstakingly recounts the true story of Hana Brady, a young Jewish girl. In 1942, Hana is separated from her loving Czechoslovakian family by the Nazis and sent to a Jewish ghetto. However, Hana’s journey is not just a story of the Holocaust.  It is a unique and riveting story because of its astonishing ties to the Japanese Holocaust effort (something I was surprised to know even existed). Hana’s Suitcase is not just a biography, but a historical mystery with a remarkable and bittersweet ending. 

The horrors of the Holocaust are seldom appropriate for younger audiences, but Levine pays particular attention to details. The narrative is engaging and quick-paced, yet notably sensitive when discussing delicate topics. I was impressed that key elements of Hana’s story --concentration camps and ghettos-- were discussed without sharing too many graphic details. Throughout the book, Levine defines important terminology and uses simple wording. Hana’s Suitcase is an excellent and award-winning work that will educate pre-teens about the Holocaust.

Content Analysis:  

There is no profanity or sexual content in this book.

This is a story about the Holocaust, an event defined by its violence. In this book, violence is seldom mentioned, or if it is, the event is stated and not detailed. There is alluding to death by gas chamber.

Mature Subject Matter:  

There are several mature themes; however, they are approached from a young or child's perspective.  These themes include war, death, loss of a parent, concentration camps, suffering, tolerance, peace, prejudice and family.

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Reviewed By Rachel
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