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Holocaust Lessons From a Doll in Creative Novel for Young Readers

Updated on May 6, 2019
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Holocaust History, a Talking Doll, and Lessons From World War 2

Important reading mixed with elements of a fairy tale along with history not to be forgotten
Important reading mixed with elements of a fairy tale along with history not to be forgotten | Source

History, Lessons from the Holocaust, and a Talking Doll

R. M. Romero's The Dollmaker of Krakow is a stunningly creative novel for ages 8-12 that has lessons in history, lessons from the Holocaust, and a story of survival of World War 2. Elements of a fairy tale make this an engaging page-turner.

The story is told by Karolina, a talking doll from a magical land. Karolina was very happy in The Land of the Dolls. Karolina loved her work as a seamstress and sewed dreams into her beautiful gowns, but her wishes were not enough to make the sad dolls that inhabited this magical land happy. All of the dolls wished to be back in the human world along with their former owners. Rats came one day and overthrew the king and queen in The Land of the Dolls. Karolina fled into the forest to escape the invasive rats and met a toy soldier. The toy soldier along with a magical wind enable Karolina to be returned to the land of the humans.

Karolina is blown into the city of Krakow, Poland, and her new home becomes the shop of a doll maker. The doll maker is astonished to find the Karolina talks! The doll maker has always kept to himself while being happy with his toy shop. Karolina encourages him to become acquainted with a Jewish musician and his daughter. Lives are interrupted when the Nazis invade Krakow during World War 2. The doll maker must take great risks to save his Jewish friends. Karolina takes part in the plans to get the Jewish children out of Krakow. The Dollmaker of Krakow has important lessons from the Holocaust events that should not be forgotten. Romero writes from imagination but includes valuable ideas that can be passed along to young readers. Romero writes in her author's note that these lessons should never be forgotten.

The Dollmaker of Krakow was published by Delacorte Press, a division of Random House Children's Books. It is recommended for ages 8-12 and has an ISBN of 978-1-5247-1539-7.

Creative Black and White Illustrations Add to the Fairy Tale Elements

Rats invade The Land of the Dolls
Rats invade The Land of the Dolls | Source
Karolina meets a toy soldier and together they are blown by a magical wind to the land of the humans
Karolina meets a toy soldier and together they are blown by a magical wind to the land of the humans | Source

Bring Karolina into the Classroom for Important History Lessons Along With Page-Turning Story

Teachers in early elementary and junior high classrooms will want to add R. M. Romero's The Dollmaker of Krakow to their classroom library. The story is creatively mixed with history, magic, and timely lessons for our society now. Romero writes in her Author's Note that kindness and bravery are important characteristics. The lessons of the Holocaust cannot be forgotten or repeated.

*Read The Dollmaker of Krakow in a group reading session. Students enjoy chapter books that can be read aloud in class with a few chapters read each day. reading aloud improves reading skills along with being able to share the book as a class. I also recommend that this book be placed on a school reading list. Many schools give students a summer reading list and this book is definitely a page-turner for summer reading.

*Call attention to the invasion of the rats when they come to The Land of the Dolls. Students will see the symbolism of the rats as they make their way through the story and Krakow is invaded by the Nazis.

*Have a globe available for students to locate Krakow, Poland.

*Call attention to the life changes that the invasion of the Nazis brought to the Jews who resided in Krakow during World War 2. How did Karolina and her dollmaker friend make a difference for their Jewish friends?

*Call attention to the historical chronology of events that led to World War 2 that Romero includes at the end of the book.

*Teachers will want to be sensitive to any child in the classroom that comes from a Jewish family. It is a good idea to inform parents that the book is being read in the classroom. Jewish parents may want to get a copy of the book to read along with their child.

© 2019 Cindy Hewitt


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