Below is my starred review of The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible on Schindler’s List, as it appeared in the February, 2014, edition of School Library Journal.
LYESON, Leon. The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible on Schindler’s List. 4 CDs. 4:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. $46.75 ISBN 9781470369439. Playaway. Digital download.
Gr 4-9–In an intimate look at one family on Oskar Schindler’s famous “list,” Leyson’s (born Leib Lezjon) memoir (S & S, 2013) begins with his earliest memories of his poor but idyllic life in a Polish village. His large Jewish family was short on money, but never on love or a sense of purpose and belonging. They eventually move to Krakow, a city that Leib finds enchanting. When the Nazis invade, however, life becomes desperate for the 10-year-old protagonist, his parents, sister, and three brothers. By sheer happenstance, Leib’s father becomes a worker for Schindler, beginning a chain of improbable events that leads to Leib’s survival, despite pogroms, ghettos, and Nazi work camps. Young Leib’s feelings of fear, dread, and despondency are relayed simply. Narrator Danny Burstein speaks in decorous, measured tones, yet sounds conversational. The words have power, no embellishment is necessary. Despite the horrific subject, Burstein imparts Leyson’s peaceable nature and even delivers a natural-sounding laugh or chuckle when relating the rare bright spots. Leyson here shares only his own memories and does not speculate or pontificate on the larger story. If he does not know the fate of a relative or friend, that uncertainty, too, is part of his story. Randomness, luck, and split-second actions that delineated life and death–these are the truths of the Holocaust, and of those on Schindler’s list. A moving and heartfelt conveyance of Leyson’s gratitude to his family and to Oskar Schindler.
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Reprinted with permission.
The Boy on the Wooden Box was recognized as an Honor Book for Older Readers in the 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Awards.
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