Archive for the 'Greenhorn' Category

Bloggers, reviewers praise middle-grade Holocaust novel Greenhorn

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 by Brian Seidman

Greenhorn“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.”

Greenhorn is available in hardcover and all ebook formats direct from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books praises Greenhorn

Thursday, December 27th, 2012 by Brian Seidman


Anna Olswanger’s new children’s book Greenhorn, about a young Holocaust survivor who transforms a Brooklyn yeshiva, is now in stores. Olswanger is the award-winning author of Shlemiel Crooks, and already her newest book, a touching volume featuring full-color illustrations by Miriam Nerlove, has earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and ForeWord Reviews. This just in: a review from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. which calls Greenhorn “compelling,” “touching,” and “humane.”

From the Bulletin:

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.

Greenhorn is available in hardcover and all ebook formats direct from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

Publishers Weekly hosts Anna Olswanger on hope and Holocaust literature

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 by Brian Seidman


Publishers Weekly’s “Soapbox” column featured an essay in late September by Anna Olswanger, author of Greenhorn and the award-winning Shlemiel Crooks, both published by NewSouth’s Junebug Books. In “A Story of Hope,” Olswanger talks about how she was compelled to turn a true story of tragedy into Greenhorn, a book about hope; she also discusses her surprise at a publisher willing to release a children’s book about the Holocaust when so many others would turn it down.

“I wrote the story about the little boy who survived the Holocaust as a book for young readers,” Olswanger writes. “And as I began to write the story of Greenhorn, I also began to discover what I was writing about. Because when I really listened to this story, I heard in it something deeper than suffering, something deeper than loss.”

Read Anna Olswanger’s full essay at Publishers Weekly.

Greenhorn is available in hardcover and all ebook formats direct from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.