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Praise for Greenhorn

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In 1946, a young survivor of the concentration camps comes to America from Poland with nothing but a mysterious box that never leaves his possession. Daniel is one of a group of boys who have lost their parents in the Holocaust and have been brought to live and study in a yeshiva in New York City. Daniel is overwhelmed by past horrors and finds adjustment to his present circumstances difficult in the extreme. He is befriended by Aaron, who tries to ease his way into this new life. Many of the boys at school are not exactly kind and considerate; they mercilessly tease Aaron for stuttering, and they keep pushing at Daniel to reveal the contents of the box. They force the issue by taking the box from him and opening it. What they find stuns them, as do Daniel’s heartbreaking reasons for keeping the object. Based on a true story, the narrative is told in Aaron’s voice, with copious use of dialogue to further the plot. Nerlove’s softly hued, full-page illustrations mostly depict quiet, calm moments, making the depiction of the attack on Daniel more startling. Olswanger’s deceptively simple tale can jump-start a discussion of the Holocaust, as well as the repercussions for those who survived and, indeed, for all humanity. A book to be read by adult and child together.
Olswanger’s tale evinces a fine ear for the rough-and-tumble speech of city kids and an eye for detail.
Daniel arrives at a yeshiva in Brooklyn in 1946, an orphan from the Holocaust. He carries a box with him everywhere, inviting the taunts and curiosity of his fellow students. When it’s revealed that the box contains soap made by the Nazis, who used human fat in their recipe, the young boys experience a life lesson in cruelty and faith that transcends their differences.
The war is finally over, and the boys at Aaron's Brooklyn yeshiva are more interested in basketball and comic books than world affairs. Into their tight-knit circle comes Daniel, an orphaned Holocaust survivor, who, along with twenty other Polish refugees, will be sharing already crowded dorm space with the American boys. Daniel is quiet, obviously bright, and strangely attached to a metal box that he carries by day and keeps under his pillow at night. Aaron, who stutters, empathizes with the odd outsider, but the other boys are rougher and swipe the box to examine its contents. What they first mistake as a greasy rock is actually a brick of soap, which Daniel believes may have been rendered from the remains of his parents who perished in a concentration camp. This slim, compelling volume, based on the experience of Rabbi Rafael Grossman, feels more like a parable than a memoir, and readers won't want to miss the end matter's touching, humane coda to "Daniel's" tale, which testifies to his eventual emotional recovery. Full-page watercolors with an air of picture-book innocence, combined with a light page count, may attract young readers, but children who have already been apprised of Nazi atrocities will be better prepared to grapple with the revelation of Daniel's heartbreaking keepsake.
Anna Olswanger, author of the award-winning Shlemiel Crooks, handles the material deftly, allowing the loyal friendship of the two boys to set a redemptive tone, while Miriam Nerlove’s delicate watercolor illustrations evoke the vulnerability and sweetness of childhood, even as the text exposes the cruelty of which human beings are capable. Profoundly moving and filled with accurate historical detail, Greenhorn is an extraordinary book.
Quiet and deeply moving.
How can such a slight book, a mere 48 pages, including the full page illustrations and an Afterword, convey such pathos, history, and emotion, while also providing an entrée into the study of the Holocaust and the meaning of Hillel’s dictum: “Do Unto Others...” but it does.
Anna Olswanger (Shlemiel Crooks, 2005) has crafted a marvelous Holocaust book for youth in Greenhorn. She carefully introduces the Shoah in a poignant and dramatic manner. Ms. Olswanger is to be commended for careful attention to detail required by any work of historical fiction. This book is enhanced further by the addition of many excellent illustrations, each one reflecting the sensory experiences of this unique environment. Greenhorn proffers a perfect launching point for a discussion of the Holocaust aimed at youthful learners.
While the tale of Greenhorn will capture the imagination of your child and the illustrations by Miriam Nerlove are well-done and colorful, it teaches on the historical, cultural, moral, and personal level.
Greenhorn is a book that will fool you by its slight appearance, but the weight of its story will astonish you.
Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger is a powerful book. I think children will be very interested in the story, and it is a good way to open up a discussion with 9 to 12 year olds about the Holocaust and even racism today
Greenhorn, a short middle grade novel by author and literary agent Anna Olswanger, is one amazing book. [It] is a worthy addition to literature dealing with the Holocaust.
A tiny novel with an enormous heart, Anna Olswanger’s Greenhorn poignantly illustrates the old adage that good and powerful things often come in the smallest packages.
Greenhorn is a heart-warming story of two outsiders who become life-long friends. I highly recommend it.
The story would make a good addition to a unit on the Holocaust, and could easily be read aloud in a classroom or read by individual students and used for classroom or home discussion.
Anna Olswanger handles the horrors of WWII and more to the point, the Holocaust very well.
Perfect for boys although girls will absolutely want to read it also.
Greenhorn is a powerful book that should be in libraries everywhere.
Greenhorn is a story of friendship. love, and loyalty. The illustrations by Miriam Nerlove are tender and warm, a perfect pairing for the heartfelt story of a young boy and his friends. Books like Greenhorn will keep alive the memories of so many who were lost.
Greenhorn ought to be read by every reader, from middle grades on up to the most elder. Author Anna Olswanger has written a story that is both heartwrenching and heartwarming, based on actual events and real life personages, as she explains in the Afterword. This is not a story I’m ever going to forget.
An excellent resource for homeschooling parents wishing to teach their children about the Holocaust.
Using common aspects of middle school life – friendship, fitting in, and bullying – Anna Olswanger creates a familiar setting to introduce young readers to the horrors of the Holocaust. Miriam Nerlove’s warm illustrations portray life in the yeshiva with just the right touches of mood and presence. The back end glossary, plus the classroom and discussion guides found at Olswanger’s website enhance the book’s educational value. Above all, Greenhorn is a profoundly moving portrait of a painful part of human history.
Greenhorn is a powerful story of the horrors of the Holocaust, and the healing power of friendship.
This is a remarkably rich and powerful book. It would be wonderful to use in a classroom as students could read it in its entirety in a couple of class periods. The world of a 1946 yeshiva is well drawn and very real.
Greenhorn is a tender, touching celebration of friendship, family, and faith. I must admit I cried at the horror and humanity of this simple story. Read it with your arms around someone you love.
It's just a tin box with a piece of soap inside. Yet for Daniel it contains a whole world. And Greenhorn is a short, simple story that deserves a place with among the most distinguished works of Holocaust literature. I loved evertyhing about this book, Miriam Nerlove artwork was perfect
Greenhorn is both a heartwarming and heartrending story of friendship and tragedy in the aftermath of the Holocaust. I highly recommend it.
A story to read and discuss with young readers -- certain to get the conversation started on this difficult subject
Greenhorn poignantly captures the harsh reality of the disconnect between American Jews and their brothers and sisters victimized and murdered in the Holocaust. In this layered children's book, Olswanger reveals the deeper failure of America's Jews to come to the emotional rescue of the profoundly devastated Survivors after the Holocaust. Those that did, like Aaron, the speech challenged but not heart challenged youngster depicted in the book, restored for the Survivors their desperately needed faith in humanity. Thanks to the gracious ones, the survivors were able to rebuild their lives and the communities fortunate to be graced by them.
Greenhorn brings to colloquial life a chilling aspect of Jewish and world history that the world should not be allowed to forget.
An easy read on a difficult subject and an excellent tool for teaching. Author Anna Olswanger handles the subject matter with grace.
Olswanger’s sensitive story, based on real-life events, brings home the atrocities of Nazi-Germany as seen through the eyes of young religious Jews living in America during WWII. This short picture book offers a message of survival, renewal and hope.
In Greenhorn, Anna Olswanger not only captures the voices of the young yeshiva students living in Brooklyn in 1946 but also reveals what is in their hearts. In a few spare words, she tenderly develops the relationship between Aaron, a student who is teased because of his stuttering, and Daniel, a Holocaust survivor who desperately clings to a tin box carrying a precious secret. Never didactic, the story conveys a message about the healing power of friendship. Miriam Nerlove’s illustrations gently evoke the time and place.
Anna Olswanger takes a daring approach introducing young readers to the horrors of the Holocaust. The telling illustrations ease the painful subject.
Greenhorn goes straight to your heart. Another poignant treasure from children's book author, Anna Olswanger, which clearly deserves to be another award-winner.