As part of my final for LIS 6530 (Young Adult Literature), I am required to read four books on a single subject/topic and then write a paper explaining how the books contribute to the overall theme. Expanding upon the literature review I first began in LIS 6510 (Current Literature for Children: Infant – Grade 3), I am continuing to read my way through Holocaust Literature; however, this time the primary audience is tweens and teens. Selecting just four books has proven to be a challenge and I wanted to choose books in which I haven’t yet read…and books that were written from different angles. It looks like I’ll be covering five…

 Once by Morris Gleitzman
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
Emil and Karl by Yankev Glatshteyn
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Once by Morris Gleitzman is the first book in a series of four with the fourth still yet to be published. Naturally, I couldn’t resist reading the others. Here’s a passage out of the second book, Then:
“One of the Hitler Youth at the front of the marching column yells something to he others and they all stop.
Right next to us.
Four of the Hitler Youth step out of the column and stride towards us. Behind them, a Nazi soldier raises his gun like he’s keen to join in.
My insides are throbbing with fear.
I get ready to throw myself at the Hitler Youth if they touch Zelda.
But it isn’t Zelda that they touch. It’s Cyryl. They grab him and slap him and punch him really hard. His mother lets out a shriek, but when they turn to her she smothers her mouth with her hand.
They punch and slap Cyryl some more.
I get furious.
I can’t help it. When I see how much those Hitler Youth thugs are enjoying what they’re doing, I stop being Wilhelm and take a step toward them.
As soon as I do, I come to my senses. What am I doing? I’m not a fighter. I can’t protect Cyryl. All I’m doing is getting my family into trouble.
Genia grabs me and pulls me back.
The jolt makes the Richmal Crompton book fall out of my shirt onto the ground. For a moment I think I’m sprung. I brace myself to be arrested.
But nobody notices.
Mrs. Szynsky is too busy helping Cyryl to his feet. The Hitler Youth thugs are too busy taking their places back in the column.
I crouch down to grab the book.
Just before my hand makes contact with it, the Hitler Youth leader yells something again.
I look up. He’s not yelling at me, he’s yelling at the column to start marching again, which they do.
But as the column marches off, one of the other Hitler Youth, not one of the thugs, stares at the book on the ground in front of me.
And does an amazing thing.
He grins at me. And with a small movement of his hand, so the other Hitler Youth can’t see him, he gives me a thumbs-up.
I blink. Did he really do that?
Is he telling me he’s a Richmal Crompton fan too?
I grab the book and stuff it back inside my shirt and stand up and try to look like nothing has happened.
Nobody seems to be looking at me.
Well, hardly anybody.
The Hitler Youth column is halfway across the square now, but the boy who saw the book is still throwing glances back in my direction.”