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Resilience shines throughout a boy's firsthand, present-tense account of life in the Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust, an ideal companion to the bestselling Boy on the Wooden Box. Michael 'Misha' Gruenbaum enjoyed a carefree childhood playing games and taking walks through Prague with his beloved father. All of that changed forever when the Nazis invaded Prag Resilience shines throughout a boy's firsthand, present-tense account of life in the Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust, an ideal companion to the bestselling Boy on the Wooden Box. Michael 'Misha' Gruenbaum enjoyed a carefree childhood playing games and taking walks through Prague with his beloved father. All of that changed forever when the Nazis invaded Prague. The Gruenbaum family was forced to move into the Jewish Ghetto in Prague. Then, after a devastating loss, Michael, his mother and sister were deported to the Terezin concentration camp. At Terezin, Misha roomed with forty other boys who became like brothers to him. Life in Terezin was a bizarre, surreal balance - some days were filled with friendship and soccer matches, while others brought mortal terror as the boys waited to hear the names on each new list of who was being sent 'to the East.' Those trains were going to Auschwitz. When the day came that his family's name appeared on a transport list, their survival called for a miracle - one that tied Michael's fate to a carefully sewn teddy bear, and to his mother's unshakeable determination to keep her children safe. Collaborating with acclaimed author Todd Hasak-Lowy, Michael Gruenbaum shares his inspiring story of hope in an unforgettable memoir that recreates his experiences with stunning immediacy. Michael's story, and the many original documents and photos included alongside it, offer an essential contribution to Holocaust literature. The book is now available in 12 languages: English (Simon and Schuster), German (Rowohlt), French (Didier Jeunesse), Spanish (Edelvives) , Greek (Papadopoulos Publishing), Russian (Samokat), Turkish, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Czech, Burmese (Myanmar) and Sinhala (Sri Lanka); Bulgarian and Khmer (Cambodia) are scheduled later this year. Publishers in China, Israel, The Netherland, Brazil, Italy, Tanzania (Swahili and Kinyarwanda), Romania, Japan and others are also close to signing up. Our goal is still the same - to have the book be added to the curricula of all middle schools around the world.. Simon and Schuster, together with Scholastic, sold 75,000 copies of the book in the USA last year.


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Resilience shines throughout a boy's firsthand, present-tense account of life in the Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust, an ideal companion to the bestselling Boy on the Wooden Box. Michael 'Misha' Gruenbaum enjoyed a carefree childhood playing games and taking walks through Prague with his beloved father. All of that changed forever when the Nazis invaded Prag Resilience shines throughout a boy's firsthand, present-tense account of life in the Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust, an ideal companion to the bestselling Boy on the Wooden Box. Michael 'Misha' Gruenbaum enjoyed a carefree childhood playing games and taking walks through Prague with his beloved father. All of that changed forever when the Nazis invaded Prague. The Gruenbaum family was forced to move into the Jewish Ghetto in Prague. Then, after a devastating loss, Michael, his mother and sister were deported to the Terezin concentration camp. At Terezin, Misha roomed with forty other boys who became like brothers to him. Life in Terezin was a bizarre, surreal balance - some days were filled with friendship and soccer matches, while others brought mortal terror as the boys waited to hear the names on each new list of who was being sent 'to the East.' Those trains were going to Auschwitz. When the day came that his family's name appeared on a transport list, their survival called for a miracle - one that tied Michael's fate to a carefully sewn teddy bear, and to his mother's unshakeable determination to keep her children safe. Collaborating with acclaimed author Todd Hasak-Lowy, Michael Gruenbaum shares his inspiring story of hope in an unforgettable memoir that recreates his experiences with stunning immediacy. Michael's story, and the many original documents and photos included alongside it, offer an essential contribution to Holocaust literature. The book is now available in 12 languages: English (Simon and Schuster), German (Rowohlt), French (Didier Jeunesse), Spanish (Edelvives) , Greek (Papadopoulos Publishing), Russian (Samokat), Turkish, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Czech, Burmese (Myanmar) and Sinhala (Sri Lanka); Bulgarian and Khmer (Cambodia) are scheduled later this year. Publishers in China, Israel, The Netherland, Brazil, Italy, Tanzania (Swahili and Kinyarwanda), Romania, Japan and others are also close to signing up. Our goal is still the same - to have the book be added to the curricula of all middle schools around the world.. Simon and Schuster, together with Scholastic, sold 75,000 copies of the book in the USA last year.

30 review for Somewhere There Is Still a Sun: A Memoir of the Holocaust

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Nagel

    One of the most powerful books I have read in a long time. Todd Hasak-Lowy set out to work with Michael Gruenbaum and to write a different kind of Holocaust book. Not just a story like so many other Holocaust books, but a book that would "read like a person living through those events at that time." He succeeds beautifully. The fact that you can hear this voice of Michael so clearly, does make the reader connect in a way I have not seen before in a holocaust memoir, other than perhaps the "Diary One of the most powerful books I have read in a long time. Todd Hasak-Lowy set out to work with Michael Gruenbaum and to write a different kind of Holocaust book. Not just a story like so many other Holocaust books, but a book that would "read like a person living through those events at that time." He succeeds beautifully. The fact that you can hear this voice of Michael so clearly, does make the reader connect in a way I have not seen before in a holocaust memoir, other than perhaps the "Diary of Ann Frank." It feels real, hits you hard, and in this way will help educate readers about what happened in a more personal way. This kind of reader experience is important in the goal of preventing something like this from happening again. A beautiful book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sally Andrews

    This book was actually written for junior high-aged kids, which I didn't know until I opened it. But I read it anyway because I'm kind of on a World War II/history kick right now. It's FABULOUS. One man looks back through time to tell the story of his experience losing his father, being sent to a 'camp,' and of how his mother bravely saved the family. Truly incredible book, even if it is written for youth. It's extremely tasteful while giving the facts about Nazis and their horrific treatment of This book was actually written for junior high-aged kids, which I didn't know until I opened it. But I read it anyway because I'm kind of on a World War II/history kick right now. It's FABULOUS. One man looks back through time to tell the story of his experience losing his father, being sent to a 'camp,' and of how his mother bravely saved the family. Truly incredible book, even if it is written for youth. It's extremely tasteful while giving the facts about Nazis and their horrific treatment of Jews.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey C

    I'm not gonna lie. Normally I would never pick up a book like this. they are usually not my favorites. and tend to bore me. but I would consider this one an exception. and it might cause me to pick up more books of the genre. This book was written with lots of emotion, and it handled the subject very well. I had never learned about the holocaust. So I thought that this book would help inform me. Which is very much did? it opened my eyes to the horrible, and horrific times that were the holocaust I'm not gonna lie. Normally I would never pick up a book like this. they are usually not my favorites. and tend to bore me. but I would consider this one an exception. and it might cause me to pick up more books of the genre. This book was written with lots of emotion, and it handled the subject very well. I had never learned about the holocaust. So I thought that this book would help inform me. Which is very much did? it opened my eyes to the horrible, and horrific times that were the holocaust. I was truly horrified, and I felt very connected with the author. I overall enjoyed the book. and would suggest it to anyone who is interested in the subject or are learning about the subject.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    Deeply affecting and moving memoir from a survivor of the Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust. Crafted in the present tense, the events bring an immediacy and intimacy to this story, as if it is unfolding before the readers' very eyes. We too are unsure of what is about to happen, unaware of the horrors awaiting Michael and his family, hopeful - ever hopeful - that his story will never be repeated nor forgotten. Essential purchase, grades 6-9. Deeply affecting and moving memoir from a survivor of the Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust. Crafted in the present tense, the events bring an immediacy and intimacy to this story, as if it is unfolding before the readers' very eyes. We too are unsure of what is about to happen, unaware of the horrors awaiting Michael and his family, hopeful - ever hopeful - that his story will never be repeated nor forgotten. Essential purchase, grades 6-9.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle Lindsly

    This book is a great insight into the life of a Jewish boy in Terezin. I am using this book as a read aloud for a class of sixth graders and they are so invested and interested in what is going to happen next. There are a few parts that do go over their heads, but I feel that my class is mature enough to handle the content and have deeper conversations about the events that take place.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joey O'Daniel

    I started this book back in November and finished before the month ended. It was a really good book telling into the life of a kid during the Holocaust. I recommend this book to any people who want to learn more about the hard times that fell on the people who were sent to concentration camps. It also a good book of showing what people during these times lost.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    A powerful memoir of a young Jewish boy and his family during the Holocaust. We must never forget.

  8. 4 out of 5

    MC Bailey

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I bought Somewhere There Is Still a Sun from a @Scholastic Book flyer for my classroom. A memoir of the Holocaust by Michael Gruenbaum, I was hooked immediately. Michael “Misha” recollects living carefree in Prague under Nazi occupation with his parents and older sister and ultimately transport to Terezin Concentration Camp. Misha was 12 in 1942 when he, his mother and sister are transported to Terezin (his father was horrifically murdered prior to their deportation) where they would remain unti I bought Somewhere There Is Still a Sun from a @Scholastic Book flyer for my classroom. A memoir of the Holocaust by Michael Gruenbaum, I was hooked immediately. Michael “Misha” recollects living carefree in Prague under Nazi occupation with his parents and older sister and ultimately transport to Terezin Concentration Camp. Misha was 12 in 1942 when he, his mother and sister are transported to Terezin (his father was horrifically murdered prior to their deportation) where they would remain until the war's end. Misha tells us the story firsthand through his eyes and thoughts, as much as Michael was able to remember. The Michael has a co-author, Todd Hasak-Lowy, that terrifically fills in gaps from research and talking to survivors from the same time period. Yet, the majority of the fine details come from mementos, pictures, and documents that Michael's mother was able to save while in Terezin and then later kept in a scrapbook. Somewhere There is Still a Sun is not just another story of a Holocaust survivor, although each survivor has his own unique story and deserves to be told/read, it is a story of innocence and lost innocence, the love of a mother, perseverance, survival, and teamwork. Misha, upon arriving in Terezin, is kept in a boys dormitory, as all children are separated from their parents. Franta, the 19-year old that is in charge of 70 plus boys in room 7, teaches Misha and the others the meaning of cleanliness, respect, teamwork, and love. Misha attends school, plays soccer, even participates in a few plays while at Terezin. Through his eyes, we experience a visit from the Red Cross, friends being deported to Birkenau, constant hunger, and confusion. Once Russia has made its way through Poland and survivors make their way to Terezin, Misha and the rest of the camp realize how much worse off these refugees were/are. Misha shows real character while caring for the refugees, even though he is frightened by their emaciated bodies. Somewhere There is Still a Sun is a true tale of survivor and loss of innocence of many young people. I highly recommend this book for 5th grade and up.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Becki

    After having taught the Holocaust through literature to my 8th grade students for a couple of years, I have a keen interest in anything Holocaust and World War II related. So when I came across this book, I knew I wanted to read it. In this first-hand account of the author’s childhood in Prague and then in the concentration camp of Terezin, the reader is exposed to yet another grisly aspect of the Holocaust. While Terezin was not a death camp and not completely a work camp, it was a miserable ex After having taught the Holocaust through literature to my 8th grade students for a couple of years, I have a keen interest in anything Holocaust and World War II related. So when I came across this book, I knew I wanted to read it. In this first-hand account of the author’s childhood in Prague and then in the concentration camp of Terezin, the reader is exposed to yet another grisly aspect of the Holocaust. While Terezin was not a death camp and not completely a work camp, it was a miserable experience nonetheless. I appreciated the pictures of original documents and letters that were included along with the text. The narrative as told by a young boy kept much of the harshness and inhumanity at arms’ length. In fact, the content aside, I believe this book was written on more of a juvenile level than a young adult one. In the end, I don’t believe I would use it as a whole class book for 7th or 8th graders. However, I think it would lend itself to be a great reading circle book for those reading at a lower level and help presents another facet of this historical tragedy. I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy via the publisher at Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review. Pros: • Looking at a different aspect of the Holocaust and its camps • First person narrative • Appealing to reluctant readers Cons: • Some grammatical errors • Slow moving at times • Some points of confusion in the timeline/events My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 (average)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    A view of the war I hadn't seen before. I had heard of the "nice" concentration camps Nazi's showed to the Red Cross so it was fascinating to hear about it from someone who lived through it. I am still amazed, no matter how many WWII books I read, about how these things happened. Like the co-author said, "these stories are about absolutely real things that happened to absolutely real people". That really hit me. What if their story was my story? It's almost terrifying to think about, as a person A view of the war I hadn't seen before. I had heard of the "nice" concentration camps Nazi's showed to the Red Cross so it was fascinating to hear about it from someone who lived through it. I am still amazed, no matter how many WWII books I read, about how these things happened. Like the co-author said, "these stories are about absolutely real things that happened to absolutely real people". That really hit me. What if their story was my story? It's almost terrifying to think about, as a person and a mother. I think this is a great young adult novel, it makes it more real for teenagers because that was the age he was then and was written from that age's point of view. Will be keeping this book in mind for when my kiddos get older.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    A memoir by Michael Gruenbaum of his experiences in Prague and the Terezin concentration camp. Although this is written for young people with accessible text, this is still an intense description of events. A powerful introduction for middle grade and young adult readers that is life-affirming.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    An important book, and very well done.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roni Beltz

    Felt sort of slow but a great story of strength.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna Brady

    My class has read this book this year to study the holocaust. I found this book was very immersive and when I read how Misha felt throughout the story I could feel his innocence and light look on the world growing into maturity and empathy as he grew older in Terezin. As someone who loves history the story in this book fascinated me and I enjoyed it. My class had a video chat call with Mr. Gruenbaum this week and he told us of his experiences and lessons that came from living during the holocaus My class has read this book this year to study the holocaust. I found this book was very immersive and when I read how Misha felt throughout the story I could feel his innocence and light look on the world growing into maturity and empathy as he grew older in Terezin. As someone who loves history the story in this book fascinated me and I enjoyed it. My class had a video chat call with Mr. Gruenbaum this week and he told us of his experiences and lessons that came from living during the holocaust. He was a very nice and caring man and I highly recommend reading his book because I loved it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Very good This book was pretty good. It was told from the perspective of him as a child. I thought his sister was a jerk though

  16. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    Somewhere There Is Still a Sun In Somewhere There Is Still a Sun, Michael Gruenbaum and Todd Hasak-Lowy accomplish the near impossible. Without shying away, and yet without dwelling on the brutality, they manage to draw the reader into the life of a young boy caught up in the horrors—and joys—of life during the Nazi occupation of what is now the Czech Republic. Although written for the young adult reader, the book crosses over easily into the adult market. Michael Gruenbaum spent the first nine Somewhere There Is Still a Sun In Somewhere There Is Still a Sun, Michael Gruenbaum and Todd Hasak-Lowy accomplish the near impossible. Without shying away, and yet without dwelling on the brutality, they manage to draw the reader into the life of a young boy caught up in the horrors—and joys—of life during the Nazi occupation of what is now the Czech Republic. Although written for the young adult reader, the book crosses over easily into the adult market. Michael Gruenbaum spent the first nine years of his life an upper-class neighborhood of Prague. He loved soccer, adored his father, and despite the strict discipline of academic study and artistic pursuits that his parents imposed on him, the playfulness with which he lived his early life shines through in the writing. All that changes when the Germans march into Prague on March 15, 1939. While watching the parade of troops from his window, Misha (Michael’s Czech name) witnesses the suicide of a couple in the apartment across the street; holding hands, they leap from the balcony onto the street below. This is his first introduction to life under Nazi rule, his first wrenching from childhood. From that time on, Misha and his family experience one loss after another. Misha’s father is murdered by the Nazis. His family is forced to move into the crowded Jewish ghetto, many of their possessions stolen by SS officers. Misha is thrust into a life of restrictions, anti-Semitic violence, poverty, and extreme hunger. Then, on November 20, 1942, he and his family are transported to Terezín concentration camp, a place of overcrowding, disease, starvation, and forced labor. As he began to write about Michael’s experiences, Hasak-Lowy immersed himself in the world of 1930s Prague and then in the world of Terezín. His research pays off. The characters in Misha’s world are fully rendered, and they are drawn with love and an uncanny depth of spirit. I do not generally read YA work, and I must confess that I started the book with somewhat low expectations. I was soon proven wrong. I was pulled into the world completely, and I found myself so drawn into the story that I could not put the book down. The writing is highly cinematic. I could clearly picture the boys in the small room where Misha lived with sometimes more than forty other boys; I experienced the love they felt for each other, the struggle to endure one hardship and one loss after another, the fight to hold onto a sense of childhood and identity when the Nazis were determined to strip away every scrap of humanity from the prisoners. We see a life in which children endure long and difficult work hours; roll calls where the inmates stand in the freezing rain in a field for nearly twenty-four hours; unending starvation; a death toll so high that every night, bodies are piled high on carts and taken to be cremated; transports to the “east” where inmates are forced onto cattle cars and taken to an unknown destination (the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, and others). And yet, throughout, we see Misha’s childhood innocence prevail and his capacity to find enjoyment in the worst of situations—he plays soccer and sings in a children’s opera—never daunted. Misha was lucky. He had a strong family bond and a mother who fought to keep her family healthy and off the transports. He also had a madrich, the leader of the room where he was housed in Terezín, who dedicated his life to keeping the children’s heads above water despite a life that tried to pull them under at every turn. All this comes through, and Hasak-Lowy manages to beautifully write the line between hope and despair, between sentimentality and horror. “We have the feeling here that we will never be able to find a bridge to those who have lived on the outside,” Gruenbaum’s mother writes in a letter after the war has ended. In this book, which lies part way between memoir and imagined recollection, Michael Gruenbaum and Todd Hasak-Lowy manage to construct that bridge. Somewhere There Is Still a Sun serves as a memorial to those who did not survive, a tribute to the courage of those who endured, and in the end, a book that should be read and read again; a book that will live on in the mind after the last page is read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anne Martin

    It is the first time I read a book about those ghettos which were moved to Terezin, and where the lucky ones survived, through the Transports East, they managed to stay in Terezin until the end of the war. The boy, the narrator, is just a big too young to be transferred like an adult to Birkenau and he, his mother ans sisters came back, after close to 3 years there.. In a way, it reminded me of La Vita e Bella, from Benigni, where the young son of the author is told it is a huge game. For the y It is the first time I read a book about those ghettos which were moved to Terezin, and where the lucky ones survived, through the Transports East, they managed to stay in Terezin until the end of the war. The boy, the narrator, is just a big too young to be transferred like an adult to Birkenau and he, his mother ans sisters came back, after close to 3 years there.. In a way, it reminded me of La Vita e Bella, from Benigni, where the young son of the author is told it is a huge game. For the young prisoners of Terenzin, it is a close call a few times, when only the craft talents or the seamstress talents of his mother prevents hem to go to Birkenau. I don't know how many came back from Birkenau... The two writers of this book are quite talented, Misha Gruenbaum to have kept so many memories so precise you can see the images coming in your mind, and Todd Hazak-Lovy, who was able to transform those horrible years in some kind of a huge soccer game. When we read it now, we know... we know most of the transport East never came back and that the death rate in those camps managed by Jewish Authorities under the control of Nazis was worse than any other ones. Lured in a fake feeling of almost normality, no revolts, and many thought it would be a few tough years. For the ones who stayed there, yes. But the ones moved East arrived in those extermination camps, where hope was abandoned. The writing style is voluntarily simple, clear, and the story is -I believe- fascinating for 10 to 16 year-old kids. boys mostly, who will enter gladly Micha's shoes.Girls, I'm less sure. What would be useful would be a summary to the numbers of deaths in those horrible places. For Micha and his friends who made it, a hymn to life. For those who could not avoid Auschwitz or Birkenau, I hope there was light to reach for them on the other side. How can life be that awful when you are only 10 or 12?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carla Acheson

    If you were to think that reading a book such as this would only invoke a terrible sadness, you would be right. But despite the bitter nature of the theme we gain a sense of understanding, of universal empathy, re-emergence into a state of hope and peace amongst our fellow man, no matter what creed, religion or colour. Ten year old Michael Gruenbaum is incarcerated in Terezin Concentration Camp with his mother and sister for two and a half years. His father has already been tortured and murdered If you were to think that reading a book such as this would only invoke a terrible sadness, you would be right. But despite the bitter nature of the theme we gain a sense of understanding, of universal empathy, re-emergence into a state of hope and peace amongst our fellow man, no matter what creed, religion or colour. Ten year old Michael Gruenbaum is incarcerated in Terezin Concentration Camp with his mother and sister for two and a half years. His father has already been tortured and murdered by Nazi soldiers, and shortly after that terrible tragedy occurred, life as ‘Mischa’ knew it came crashing down around him. The story never shocks in a single sentence, or aims to disturb unnecessarily, but moves gently along as we mostly observe how life operates for the prisoners within the camp solely from Mischa’s viewpoint. We see the ongoing maternal concern of his mother, for even though she resides in a different barrack for women she seems able to frequently check on her son and his welfare. Mischa lives in a room with many other boys of similar age, and from this he forms the basis of his entire camp experience. By participating in a football team he gains a sense of comradeship and purpose, hence bonding with the other boys dubbed the ‘Nesharim.’ But all too soon, Mischa feels the pang of loss, as frequent organised transports to more deadly destinations extinguishes the lives of his room companions one by one. When will it be his turn? There were two pivotal sad points in this story for me. The first was when the entire camp of prisoners were led into the cold dark streets to embark on a ‘long walk’ to pretty much nowhere. Young, old, no-one could escape the Nazi led death march. Some died, some collapsed, others became gravely ill. Mischa experienced a long day of harsh brutality from which his innocent young mind could fathom no real reason. His mother had insisted he wear a blanket over his shoulders before going. Her caring concern within such dire circumstances created a lump in my throat. The second upsetting scene was when his older sister, Marietta, wished to leave on a train with her boyfriend who had been summoned on one of the transports. Mischa sits and watches helplessly as his mother cries, begs and pleads with her daughter not to go, as stony-faced Marietta resolutely stuffs her few belongings into a suitcase. Such a scene would be heartbreaking for any family. Throughout this story you will cling to a real sense of security and safety, for nothing can be more frightening than existing under the hands of the brutal Nazi soldiers. But it is not only fear and hardship we draw from the story, but we encounter courage, solidarity, kinship, and above all, the sheer power of the human mind to overcome adversity and LIVE, even in the most dire of circumstances. Youngbookworms.com

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cassidy F

    This book was a great book for the holocaust. It shows how the lives of people in the camps were and how the Nazis would treat them. I think that from the point of view it was told I was able to understand it better.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Valerie McEnroe

    I've read quite a few Holocaust books, but this one is different. This memoir is about Terezin, a Czech concentration camp that was the false model used to dupe the Red Cross and world into believing all prisoners were being treated humanely. Though it wasn't a paradise, they got to keep their belongings, wear their own clothes, participate in theatrical performances, and roam the grounds. Their barracks had water and latrines. The only deaths were from "natural" causes. Most of the guards were I've read quite a few Holocaust books, but this one is different. This memoir is about Terezin, a Czech concentration camp that was the false model used to dupe the Red Cross and world into believing all prisoners were being treated humanely. Though it wasn't a paradise, they got to keep their belongings, wear their own clothes, participate in theatrical performances, and roam the grounds. Their barracks had water and latrines. The only deaths were from "natural" causes. Most of the guards were Jewish officers rather than Nazi officers. Michael Gruenbaum came to Terezin when he was 12-years-old, and remained there until the end of the war. He lived in an overcrowded boys barrack, but could freely visit his mother and sister in the women's barrack. He formed a strong bond with the other boys and their father figure-leader. Once the deportations began he couldn't believe it could be any worse than Terezin. He genuinely believed he would see his friends again. His mother knew differently, and accomplished the impossible by getting them removed from the Auschwitz deportation list each time. At one point the camp was nearly deserted, but then the trains started returning as the war neared its end. When he saw the skeletal bodies returning from Auschwitz, he realized the horrors he had been spared. The author of this book is amazing. I was impressed with how well he developed Michael's character from an innocent boy, unfamiliar with evil, to a young man forced to accept the unbelievable. He stated in the epilogue that he hoped the reader would be able to get inside Michael's head and experience the Holocaust as it happened. He definitely succeeded with me. I thoroughly understood every thought and action Michael had. This is Michael when he finally realizes the truth of Auschwitz. Michael: "Gas, then chimney." Michael's friend: "No way, not even the Nazi's would." Michael: "What do you mean, no way? Have you looked at those people? The one's who've been eating our potatoes like they've never eaten in their entire lives? Have you? C'mon, anyone who would do that to all those people, who would let them wind up like this, who would just stick them on cars meant for coal, or make them walk as far as they just walked...what wouldn't they do? Think about it." Absolutely one of the best written Holocaust books out there.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alan Hooten

    Twelve-year-old boys should be playing soccer. They should be going on walks with their fathers. They should be going to school and helping around the house. That’s what they should be doing. And in 1939, that’s what Michael (Misha) Gruenbaum does in Prague. But soon, a new government takes over, and new laws begin to slowly take this life from him. As a Jewish family, Michael, his father, his mother and his older sister watch helplessly as their rights as people and citizens of the city begin t Twelve-year-old boys should be playing soccer. They should be going on walks with their fathers. They should be going to school and helping around the house. That’s what they should be doing. And in 1939, that’s what Michael (Misha) Gruenbaum does in Prague. But soon, a new government takes over, and new laws begin to slowly take this life from him. As a Jewish family, Michael, his father, his mother and his older sister watch helplessly as their rights as people and citizens of the city begin to disappear right before their eyes. They are restricted on where they can shop, on what they can own, and, eventually, on where they can live. By 1942, Misha will find his family of four reduced to a family of three, and all of them on a train to their new home, a work camp a few hours outside of town called Terezin. The childhood that Misha should be having is all but over. But that doesn’t mean he’s out of hope. Against all odds, and against dark oppression from a ruthless regime, Misha and others like him work together to make the best of the situation. As his mom writes in a letter to one of her relatives, “But somewhere in the world there is still a sun, mountains, the ocean, books, small clean apartments, and, perhaps, the rebuilding of a new life.” Even in the darkest of times, when forces beyond his control threaten to take everything Misha loves from him, there is still a sun. The author of this book is Misha, the very person who endured the events of the story. In his commentary about the book, he shared how he struggled to discover the right way to share his experiences, for a time even trying to write it as a children’s book. In the end, he landed on writing this book for middle grade readers because that’s how old he was in the early 1940s. Obviously, the topic of the Holocaust is sobering, and extreme sensitivity is needed for immature readers, but this story provides a great vision into life for a child during that time--the ostracism, the injustice, the inhumanity--while avoiding some of the gruesome details. Misha and his family are sent to a work camp rather than a death camp. At the end of the story, they encounter others who have been in worse situations, so the story doesn’t avoid the topic, but the setting of this story is very much appropriate for young readers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Krystal

    **Original review posted here. Right off the top, I don't read historical books, ever. I don't find them interesting enough. If there is a topic that interests me, I'll watch documentaries or movies. They always hold my attention and I retain a lot more that way. But I thoroughly enjoyed this historical memoir about a young boys life as a Jew in Prague and his surviving journey through the Holocaust. I think what made this more catchy was that it was a book geared to 10-15 year olds. It was tol **Original review posted here. Right off the top, I don't read historical books, ever. I don't find them interesting enough. If there is a topic that interests me, I'll watch documentaries or movies. They always hold my attention and I retain a lot more that way. But I thoroughly enjoyed this historical memoir about a young boys life as a Jew in Prague and his surviving journey through the Holocaust. I think what made this more catchy was that it was a book geared to 10-15 year olds. It was told as a story that the youth could put themselves in, and there wasn't an information overload. In Somewhere There Is Still A Sun we follow Misha, a young boy who loves his father, soccer and exploring his surrounding town. He's like any other young child in the streets of Prague in 1939 making up games and kicking around a ball and just enjoying life, but when the first rules are thrown his way by the Nazis he is a bit confused by the injustice and when more and more stupid rules are enforced, Misha see's just how bad things are becoming. When his father is taken away by SS officers and his mother and sister along with him are forced out of their home not once but twice and moved to the Terezin concentration camp, Misha fears that things are at their worst. Misha is separated from his mother and sister and forced to live with 40 other boys in a group called the Nesharim. Some days are normal where they can play soccer and be boys again, but other days are spent worrying about the next transport and what will happen if Misha and his family are to be a part of that. There is so much emotion in this book. You can feel the love and the hatred surrounded by everyone. You pick up so clearly the fear but also the sense of family, and you can feel the pain endured by the poor people who were herded like cattle and deprived of basic necessities. The last few chapters were an emotional roller coaster and the authors did a great job with the writing, the details and the pure rawness of creating this memoir that I think should be a book available to all young readers.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I've really cut back on my reading about the Holocaust over the last few years, but I'm so glad I picked up this book. It's intended as a sort of introduction to the Holocaust for young people, but it's unlike other Holocaust books I've read in that it follows the author, Michael (Misha in the story) Gruenbaum, as a young Jewish boy in Prague and his experience of the Nazi occupation of Prague, including moving to the Jewish ghetto and eventual transport to Terezin (Theresienstadt) concentration I've really cut back on my reading about the Holocaust over the last few years, but I'm so glad I picked up this book. It's intended as a sort of introduction to the Holocaust for young people, but it's unlike other Holocaust books I've read in that it follows the author, Michael (Misha in the story) Gruenbaum, as a young Jewish boy in Prague and his experience of the Nazi occupation of Prague, including moving to the Jewish ghetto and eventual transport to Terezin (Theresienstadt) concentration camp. There are many things that are left unsaid so that the reader can experience the Nazis' increasing persecution of Prague's Jews through Misha's eyes. It's powerful and the hints in the story about what is happening to the Jews and what they knew about, for example, what it meant to be assigned to a transport to "the East" from Terezin are obvious to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the history of the Holocaust. I appreciate, however, that this story avoids a lot of the graphic detail that so many Holocaust memoirs include, but scenes like the description of prisoners arriving at Terezin after the liberation of Auschwitz are heartbreaking and provide a "gentler" introduction to the horror of the Holocaust for people with limited background or for those for whom the more graphic details are simply too much. Additionally, this story has a powerful message of hope and the strength of a group to support one another under the most awful, extreme conditions. Note that this is not a memoir in the sense that it doesn't rely solely on the main character's memories and experience. While it is built largely on Misha's memories and a book his mother kept of documents from the camp, Gruenbaum's co-author did a lot of research on Prague's Jewish community, Terezin, and more, and he used that research to flesh out Misha's memories. So, as he acknowledges in his notes at the end of the book, Misha in the story is a real person but also a construct that combines details from the co-author's research in order to convey a more complete picture of Jewish experience during this period.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Carter

    It’s absolutely unimaginable and horrifying what Jews went through during the Holocaust. Reading this book from the perspective of a boy who lived in concentration camps from age 9 to 15 was a somber experience. As awful and painful as the memories of this time certainly are, I am grateful for people like Michael Gruenbaum who are willing to share their stories so they are never forgotten. Obviously this is a hard read, but I think it would be appropriate for ages 12 and up.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Looking to read a memoir of the holocaust? Michael Gruenbaum has teamed up with Todd Hasak-Lowry to write Somewhere There Is Still A Sun. This memoir is not reflective. In fact, it is actually written in present tense, first person present. I must admit that took a bit of getting used to on my part. In a way, it almost seems unnatural. But. It wasn't a distraction either. I did not stay focused on the mechanics of how it was written for long. I did get swept up in the narrative. And with good re Looking to read a memoir of the holocaust? Michael Gruenbaum has teamed up with Todd Hasak-Lowry to write Somewhere There Is Still A Sun. This memoir is not reflective. In fact, it is actually written in present tense, first person present. I must admit that took a bit of getting used to on my part. In a way, it almost seems unnatural. But. It wasn't a distraction either. I did not stay focused on the mechanics of how it was written for long. I did get swept up in the narrative. And with good reason, it is compelling and intense. There is an innocence to the narrator, to Misha, for he is as sheltered as he possibly can be as a Jew living in a Nazi-occupied country. That is, Misha hasn't really grasped how life-and-death the situation is. Misha is still focused on life, on things like playing soccer and going to the movies. His mother and older sister seem to be keeping some things from him, for better or worse. And these things don't come to the reader's attention until the author's note. (Do all readers read authors' notes? I do. But I'm not sure everyone does.) Because of Misha's innocence, many readers may know more than he does. (Though maybe not all readers. I don't want to presume that every single reader will have read five or six holocaust books by the time they come across Somewhere There Is Still A Sun.) It is an interesting position to be put in as a reader, to know more than a character. Misha's memoir focuses on his time in a Jewish ghetto in Prague, and, in Terezin. Terezin is still relatively new to me to read about, so I found this one fascinating. For example, Misha takes part in one or two of the plays held in Terezin. What I appreciated the most about Somewhere There Is Still A Sun is the focus on relationships--the bonds between characters. Misha is separated from his mother and sister for many years. He is one of many assigned to a room. (I want to say that forty young boys shared a room?) Relationships matter in books, and it really gives one a complete story.

  26. 4 out of 5

    May

    I found this sadly true story that Michael Gruenbaum tells about his life as a boy during the Holocaust fascinating. With the help of author Todd Hasak-Lowy, they reenact Michael’s life from the age of eight until fourteen – from shortly before anything bad happens to him, to significant events making his life continually worse before he is sent to the Nazi concentration camp Terezin, until he is freed from there at the end of the war. (It’s a little like reading “A Series of Unfortunate Events” I found this sadly true story that Michael Gruenbaum tells about his life as a boy during the Holocaust fascinating. With the help of author Todd Hasak-Lowy, they reenact Michael’s life from the age of eight until fourteen – from shortly before anything bad happens to him, to significant events making his life continually worse before he is sent to the Nazi concentration camp Terezin, until he is freed from there at the end of the war. (It’s a little like reading “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, except that it’s true, and much shorter). It has given me a much better understanding of what happened during this terrible period in history. In the face of all the horrible things that happen, Michael and his 40 or so bunk roommates in their overcrowded room have a 20-year-old “teacher”, Franta, who shows amazing strength and wisdom in leading them to let nothing separate them from their humanity. He firmly makes them keep clean from disease, teaches them how to stick together to fight their oppression from the Nazis to be strong, kind, care for each other – even when it was hard to do. Fortunately, Michael’s very prescient mother managed to save him from being transported from Terezin to almost certain death, which allows him to be here today to tell us his story. I recommend this book both to middle school children, whom it was written for, as well as anyone older. It is very important to know about what the Nazis did, to prevent things even remotely like that from happening again. It is too easy for people in power to do great harm in the name of their ideals (WHOSE ideals?) – we must be very careful of what programs and laws we allow our politicians to institute.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    This isn't your standard Holocaust book. It doesn't tell horror stories of Nazis, or shocking portrayals of labor camps. That all happens behind the scenes, but this is a story of Misha, a Jewish boy who had only a vague idea of why his life was changing. They were a fairly well-to-do family, until Misha's father is taken away by the SS. Soon after, Misha and his mother are transferred to Terezin, a concentration camp. You're Misha Gruenbaum and you live on Kozi Street in the Jewish ghetto, becaus This isn't your standard Holocaust book. It doesn't tell horror stories of Nazis, or shocking portrayals of labor camps. That all happens behind the scenes, but this is a story of Misha, a Jewish boy who had only a vague idea of why his life was changing. They were a fairly well-to-do family, until Misha's father is taken away by the SS. Soon after, Misha and his mother are transferred to Terezin, a concentration camp. You're Misha Gruenbaum and you live on Kozi Street in the Jewish ghetto, because you're a Jew, like the star says. Life in Terezin is almost carefree for a boy of Misha's age. He lives in a room with 40 other boys; they play soccer together; he finds himself some steady work. They have Program (not school, since that's forbidden) and put on plays for the rest of the camp. You almost forget it's the ghetto, just like Misha and his friends. That is, until the trains start coming in, and people are being transported to the East in droves—to Auschwitz. The story is told in much the same way the events happened. It's gradual, a sort of disbelief, until there's no way to ignore it. Even for a ten-year-old kid. Misha watches his freedoms being slowly taken away in Prague; he then watches his friends disappear on trains meant for livestock. He always thinks things can't get any worse than they are. It's heartbreaking, not just because of the setting, but because these children had to live through it. They didn't understand everything going on... until they had to.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Michael Gruenbaum writes a fantastic book. This book has you observe humanity, and how we treat each other. Through this book, we watch as Michael's life goes from the perfect world, to a grief stricken story. This memoir of the Holocaust starts when Michael is 9 nine years of age. He is relatively young when the Nazi’s invade his hometown of Prague, and he doesn’t think much of it for a while. Until he notices the subtle changes of Prague. Being Jewish, he has to deal with all the rules and r Michael Gruenbaum writes a fantastic book. This book has you observe humanity, and how we treat each other. Through this book, we watch as Michael's life goes from the perfect world, to a grief stricken story. This memoir of the Holocaust starts when Michael is 9 nine years of age. He is relatively young when the Nazi’s invade his hometown of Prague, and he doesn’t think much of it for a while. Until he notices the subtle changes of Prague. Being Jewish, he has to deal with all the rules and regulations that the Nazi’s formed against the Jews during that time period. The number of rules increases, until the family is finally transported to the Terezin concentration camp. To survive Michael must show a resilience, and his mother must do everything in her power to keep them from being sent to The East. Through this book Michael makes some incredible friends, and together they take care of each other. The book ends when Michael is 14 years old. Through this book, we learn the horrifying traits of human nature, and we see that a mother will do crazy things to have her children survive. Anyone who likes history, hearing about anyone else's lives, or likes a good story, will enjoy Somewhere There Is Still A Sun. Gruenbaum and Hasak-Lowy create a story like no other. They bring to light human nature, the horrors of war, and through it all, the perseverance of people

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Mente

    Misha is a nine-year-old boy who lives in Prague. He loves to race people and play soccer. However, little does he know, his life will soon change forever. The Nazis have just started to take over Prague, and have made many (in Misha´s opinion) stupid rules that made it so that Jewish people did not have as many rights as other people did, which made them feel belittled most of the time. After some time of having to follow these rules, Misha and his family were forced to move to a different part Misha is a nine-year-old boy who lives in Prague. He loves to race people and play soccer. However, little does he know, his life will soon change forever. The Nazis have just started to take over Prague, and have made many (in Misha´s opinion) stupid rules that made it so that Jewish people did not have as many rights as other people did, which made them feel belittled most of the time. After some time of having to follow these rules, Misha and his family were forced to move to a different part of Prague. After a while, they were then forced to sew ¨special¨ stars on all of their outer clothing. Misha would get bullied for wearing that clothing. Soon after, Misha´s father lost his job and his family was forced into concentration camps. Misha was separated from his mother, and his father barely talked to him anymore. What will happen to Misha? Will him and his father survive? Will they escape? Will Misha ever see his mother again? Read the book and find out!! I thought that this book was truly needed because it told about a historical event that everyone should know about because it shaped the future of our country very greatly. For that, I give this book 4/5 stars, because it was still quite devastating to read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Yapha

    This is one of the most powerful books about the Holocaust that I have read in a long time. Even if you have read many others, I strongly suggest reading this one. Michael Gruenbaum was a young boy when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia and marched through his hometown of Prague. We follow his journey as the laws becoming stricter and stricter. His family is moved into the ghetto, where his father is taken by the SS. They are later deported to Terezin, where he becomes part of a group of boys know This is one of the most powerful books about the Holocaust that I have read in a long time. Even if you have read many others, I strongly suggest reading this one. Michael Gruenbaum was a young boy when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia and marched through his hometown of Prague. We follow his journey as the laws becoming stricter and stricter. His family is moved into the ghetto, where his father is taken by the SS. They are later deported to Terezin, where he becomes part of a group of boys known as the Nesharim. Everything in this story is told from Michael's perspective and we feel the mix of emotions as his world is turned upside down. Because of the way the story is presented (first person, present tense) the reader is drawn into this world more deeply. The emotions are raw as we try to make sense of what we are seeing through Michael's eyes. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up. Some background knowledge of the Holocaust is suggested. eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

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