“This is going to be a difficult review, Esteemed Reader. I’ve been staring at the screen now for more than ten minutes, uncertain how to begin. I’ve just read [Anna Olswanger’s] Greenhorn for a second time and I’m devastated. I didn’t cry, but I have no doubt many readers will.”
So begins Robert Kent’s review of Olswanger’s Greenhorn, from his blog Middle Grade Ninja, joining a chorus of reviewers across the blogosphere praising Olswanger’s new book. “Greenhorn,” Kent continues, “is the perfect tool for parents and educators to introduce younger children to the Holocaust.”
Joyce Moyer Hostetter, at The 3 R’s — Reading, ‘Riting, and Research, agrees that Greenhorn “is a great book for younger readers because the New York setting provides some emotional distance from a deeply painful topic. At 48 pages, it’s a quick read. Perfect for boys although girls will absolutely want to read it also.”
“Not many books tackle [the Holocaust] aiming at such a young audience,” writes Joe Hempel on Top of the Heap Reviews, “but Anna Olswanger handles the horrors of World War II and more to the point, the Holocaust very well . . . It serves as a gateway to open the discussion in what happened, and using the feelings of the characters can be easier to get kids to open up about how they feel about what happened to them, or how they would feel had it been happening to them or going on now.”
The Jewish Book Council wonders “how can such a slight book . . . convey such pathos, history, and emotion, while also providing an entree into the study of the Holocaust and the meaning of Hillel’s dictum: “Do Unto Others. . .?” They conclude “But it does . . . How [the book’s] dual motifs, the Shoah and bullying, play out are for the reader to discover and perhaps invite to further study. Based on a true story, it is a perfect introduction to learning about the Holocaust.”
Mallory Anne-Marie Forbes of Mallory Heart Reviews praised Greenhorn as “heartwrenching and heartwarming . . . ought to be read by every reader, from middle grade on up to the most elderly.” Rebecca Midgal of the Bank Street Bookstore said the book was “extraordinary . . . Profoundly moving and filled with accurate historical detail.”
Susannah Felts, with Chapter 16, the online publication of Humanities Tennessee, calls Greenhorn “a tiny novel with an enormous heart.” She interviewed Olswanger, and in that interview (available online), the two talk about Olswanger’s real-life inspirations for Greenhorn and what Olswanger hopes the book will add to the canon of Holocaust literature.
In The Times of Israel, Yael Levy also interviews Olswanger. Levy says that Greenhorn “takes a potentially frightening story about a dark time in history, yet crafts it in such a way that children are engaged, encouraged to ask questions and learn about the Holocaust — without the element of fear that haunts so many other books on this topic.”