Title: The Missing: The True Story of My Family in World War II
Author: Michael Rosen
Publisher: Wakler Books
Genre: Children’s non-fiction, History – World War II & Holocaust, Autobiography, Poetry
Book format: Hardback
Description: When I was growing up, stories often hung in the air about my great-uncles: they were there before the war, my dad would say, but weren’t after.
That never used to make any sense to me… How could people just disappear? Peaople with whole lives? People with families? So, over many years, I tried to find out exactly what happened.
This book is the result: the true story of the missing Rosens.
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: This is a great book which introduces the truth about the Holocaust to children but in a way that isn’t too horrifying. ‘The Missing’ begins with Michael Rosen giving an introduction about his great-aunts and great-uncles who were mentioned being there before the war and not after, and the question of what happened to them. In each chapter afterwards there is a little about his own life growing up and his subsequent search for his relatives, and some information about what was happening during the war, along with a simple, but interesting poem at the end of every chapter.
I really like the way this book is written. The language Rosen uses to explain what happened in the war and the Holocaust is simple but effective. He tells his tale from his own point of view of first being a child and not quite understanding the war, which had only finished a few years earlier. There are some interesting and fun descriptions of his grandparents, I can’t help but love the poem of the bagel! This and the simple but effective writing style makes you click with the author right away, you feel like a friend is telling you a story, and I know that many children would enjoy reading this book as a result of this.
As the chapters progress you begin to learn more about his relatives and what subsequently happened to them. Along the way Rosen explains what was happening during the war, how the rights of Jews were taken away and how the mass genocide began. Terms like ‘genocide’ are explained to kids making it easy for them to grasp what was really happening. They are told that people were killed and gassed, but this doesn’t go into gruesome details making it a good book to explain the whole Holocaust and what happened during the Second World War to children without scaring or shocking them too much.
At the end of each chapter is a poem, these are quite short and relate to the chapter that preceeds it. I like the poems, they are easy to understand and a couple of them felt quite powerful. Whether children will enjoy the poems I don’t know, but they are simple to read and help to break up the sad story of what happened to Rosen’s relatives. The book is mainly text, but does show a few images including some letters, photos and maps to show which parts of certain countries were being invaded/occupied. This really helped even me as I confess I didn’t know about the divided occupation of France. The end of the book also has Rosen’s family tree along with a bibliographe of several pages featuring lots of different books about war, Holocaust which can be good extra reading to explore the topics further.
This book, although a great introduction to the Holocaust, is also a great book to teach children about prejudice and racism today. Rosen touches on these briefly, and the worry about groups of people being singled out in today’s world, which I personally feel is an important message considering the way many in society seem to be treated lately. Rosen’s own findings about his family are of course sad and I felt especially sad with what happened to Oscar and Rachel. There is a good poem to end the book though, a message of hope, and the whole book doesn’t feel dark, but is still an important read.
This really is a book that every child should be given to read (and maybe many adults too!). It’s simple in the way it explains everything, the reality of the Holocaust and what happened is explained very well, but not in such a way that would be considered too dark for children and many adults can use the opportunity to talk to children about it more, or do their own research on their relatives. It really is the perfect book to introduce this difficult subject to children and one I wish I could have read when I was younger.
Have you read this book? What do you think about books that try to explain difficult subjects like the Holocaust to children? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂