I must have inherited my fascination with the Holocaust from my mother. Whenever a new book chronicling any kind of history about the camps or a person involved in the Holocaust is published, it is almost certain the title will go on my “to read” list.
I had heard about The Boy on the Wooden Box, but I didn’t actually pick it up until now. This book has won several (well-deserved) awards, and though at times it is quite descriptive, in my mind that is okay. This story needs to be descriptive. Why? Because without all of the details, the reader would not fully understand what the author is trying to get across. Even after reading it, I cannot imagine what Leon Leyson and his family experienced.
Take caution when reading this book, or letting a child read this book. It is written in a simple, easy to consume way, but some of the things that occur to Leon and his family are horrible. I do think that we need to be aware of what happened during the Holocaust, if only as a tribute to those who lived through it, and especially to those who died because of it. That does not mean that we need to read books that will give us nightmares though. This book tells the story of one boy and how he lived in Poland during the time of World War II. He was a Jew, and at the time there was a lot of hatred flying around because of race. I used to thik it was only the German Jews that were persecuted, but actually Poland was in dire straits because of the Nazis also.
This book is one that young teens will be able to relate to, because the protagonist is a young child/teen himself. Adults might also want to pick up this book; it is a quick read, but hits on some very tough subjects. What better way to bring up some history with your child than to read the same book, and have a conversation about it?
Violence/Gore: War is mentioned multiple times, and the effect it has on citizens; a minor boy is forced to bury dead bodies, no scene is involved but a brief description is given; a boy falls through ice on a lake; Jews are pelted with stones for their religion; books are burnt; buildings are destroyed in one brief scene; soldiers are described to brutally beat citizens in a few scenes; police manhandle citizens violently; a minor boy is slapped by soldiers; random killings are described to occur by soldiers; innocent people are starved by the government; a bike crash occurs and a minor gashes his forehead; captives are mentioned to be gassed and it is implied that they die; gunshots and screams are mentioned to be heard in a descriptive scene, it is implied that deaths occur; dogs are mentioned to kill citizens with no mercy; a boy trips and gashes his leg, has to visit an infirmary; a man is said to be shot at point blank, blood is mentioned to pool around him; death threats are made to innocent citizens; a boy is whipped in one briefly descriptive scene (whip s described, pain, bruises).
Sex/Nudity: A man is referred to as a “womanizer”.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death, loss of a loved one, disease, murder, personal crisis, war horrors described, religious persecution, racism.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Tobacco pipes are cleaned; a man is mentioned to have a pipe in his mouth with no tobacco in it; vodka shots are drunk in celebration; vodka is given as a gift.