• Review
By – December 16, 2013

After Kristall­nacht, Jews could no longer stay in Aus­tria and Ger­many and searched for places of refuge. One coun­try that accept­ed them was Shang­hai, Chi­na. In Shang­hai, the Jews pre­ferred the more uptown” neighbor­hood, the French Con­nec­tion.” While still below Aus­tri­an stan­dards, it was where, for a while, they formed a lit­tle Vien­nese-type sec­tion with schools and stores. When Japan occu­pied Shang­hai, all Jews were moved to a filthy, impos­si­bly crowd­ed sec­tion of the city whose res­i­dents had to obey the mer­cu­r­ial whims of a squat Japan­ese offi­cer whose approval was need­ed for Jews to cross over to the bet­ter part of the city where many had jobs or businesses.

What is remark­able about this book is that through a young child’s eyes, the his­to­ry and aura of Shang­hai become imme­di­ate. The child-read­er, iden­ti­fy­ing with Lily, will gain an under­stand­ing of the tri­als expe­ri­enced by Lily’s and oth­er Jew­ish fam­i­lies when they are ordered out of French Town to a filthy, shab­by ghet­to. In addi­tion to their increased hav­ing to make-do” and find new friends, in the course of this part of the book Lily expe­ri­ences fear, ill­ness, bomb­ings, freez­ing cold, short­age of food and won­der­ing if the war would ever end. 

The deci­sion regard­ing when to intro­duce Holo­caust lit­er­a­ture to younger chil­dren has been debat­ed for years, but Kathy Kac­er makes it plau­si­ble to intro­duce it to read­ers from grade 3, using her excel­lent A Holo­caust Remem­brance Series for Young Read­ers.” Shang­hai Escape is the 12th and most recent book of the series.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 8 – 12. Illus­tra­tion, photos.

Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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