Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson
On August 25, 2000, 93 headstones and monuments were damaged in the Jewish section of Rose Hill Memorial Park in Tulsa. One of the young men who was arrested was heavily tattooed in swastikas and other Nazi symbols. Now again we are hearing that one of our synagogues in Tulsa has received threats of violence. And Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia recently were damaged, with more than 100 headstones in each cemetery desecrated.
There are many books in our library using the Holocaust as background for fiction, and many books in our non-fiction section which discuss the persecution of European Jews during World War II. Many survivors of concentration camps have written their stories for our young and old to read and learn from.
Two fairly new books are particularly timely – one fiction and one non-fiction.
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit is a beautiful book. Suitable for 8th grade into adult, this book follows the fictional journey of a young girl and her protector through the Polish countryside. It is 1939 and Anna (or sometimes Ana), aged 7, is waiting for her father to return from lecturing at the University. Unknown to her, he has been arrested in a roundup of university professors and lecturers, and will eventually die on the way to Dachau. Her father is a linguist and she has learned a variety of languages from him. As she wanders the streets, unable to return to her home since she has no key, she encounters the Swallow Man.
The Swallow Man is a shadowy figure who can fade into any background or command attention of the most respectful kind. He advises her, “Stay out of sight, for as long as you can.” And, doing so, she begins to follow him until they are united in eluding German soldiers searching in the dark. And throughout the book she follows him, crisscrossing Poland and cleverly avoiding capture at checkpoints and in cities for more than a year. Readers never learn all there is to know about the Swallow Man, except that he saves Anna and sends her to safety across what we assume to be the Baltic Sea. And we sense that in saving her, he has offered himself to be lost.
The second book, The Boy on the Wooden Box, is a memoir of one of Schindler’s Jews – Leon Leyson or Lieb Lejzon “ as was his given name”. Schindler’s Jews were a group of nearly 1200 Jews saved by industrialist Oskar Schindler. Schindler was able to move the workers in his factory out of Germany and into Czechoslovakia in order to save them. His story is seen in the movie, Schindler’s List. (available in the Adult dvd section)
Leyson was a true resident of Krakow as a child, moving there at 8 from a small village in the Polish countryside. When the Nazi army drove through Poland in 1938, Leon and his family continued safely for some time – until the night the Gestapo came to their home, beat his father and arrested him. Upon his release, Leon’s father quietly worked doing odd jobs. He was called one day to a factory taken over by Nazi sympathizers. The owner watched him do the job he had been called for, then offered Leon’s father employment. The owner was Oskar Schindler.
Because his father worked for Schindler, the family remained safe from deportation, even though they were impoverished and subject to the irrational behaviors of German soldiers. In 1941, the family moved into the newly constructed ghetto in Krakow. Life continued to deteriorate as neighbors and friends were rounded up for transport to concentration camps. Schindler was granted permission to build a sub camp next to his factory as a time saving ruse – and after months of separation from his family, Leon and his mother were placed on a hire list from Schindler’s factory, and the family was reunited. The rest is history – Schindler miraculously managed to protect his Jews until the end of the war.
The title reference is understood when we learn that Leon was so small (at age 12) that he had to stand on a wooden box to do his job at the factory – and was saved because his small hands were needed to do tedious cleaning of gun barrels that an adult was too large to do.
Both of these books, one fiction, and one not, set in Poland in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s demonstrate the terrors of the Nazi vendetta against the Jews. Each recounts the careless disregard of human life which results from the separation of populations into “us” and “them.” – Review by Jan Cravens, Youth Services assistant
Richelle Mitchum from the OKC Zoo presented two programs yesterday at the library. There were 228 people in attendance for the children’s program and 48 teens here for the afternoon event…wow! See more photos here: https://www.facebook.com/bvillelibrary/posts/10154807420159550
Congratulations to Central Middle School, winners of the 2017 Battle of the Books! More photos can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/bvillelibrary/posts/10154807384824550
If you are looking for assistance in tracking your family information, experienced genealogists will be available on Saturday, March 18 from 9 to 4 in the Local and Family History Room of the Bartlesville Public Library. Volunteer genealogists will be there to guide you, whether you are beginning family research or need suggestions to further your research. It is helpful to bring the family information you already have, along with the questions or family information you need answered.
The purpose of the Bartlesville Genealogical Society is to promote and encourage the common interest of family genealogy. All genealogy assistance is a free service provided by the Society.
The Bartlesville Genealogical Society will hold its regular monthly meeting at 6:30 on Monday evening, March 13, in the Bartlesville Public Library’s upstairs meeting room (Conference Room A). The public is invited.
During the 6:30 Beginner’s Corner portion of the meeting, those present will learn the basics of beginning genealogy. Rita Bibles, an experienced genealogist, will tell how to locate and search census records. She will share how, once the census records are located, to milk those records to acquire the most information.
At the second portion of the meeting, about 7:15, Meg Greenwood, also an experienced genealogist, will discuss methods for researching your Irish and European ancestors.
The goal of the Bartlesville Genealogical Society is to promote and encourage the common interest of family genealogy and history among the members. Meetings and classes are a service of the Society and are free and open to anyone interested in beginning or continuing family research. Information discussed will assist beginners in their search for family information, and, if you are an experienced genealogist, you will find useful tips in continuing family research.
For more information about the Bartlesville Genealogical Society, including membership options and meeting information (2nd Monday each month), please visit the website: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~okbgs/. You will also find information on Facebook under “Bartlesville Genealogical Society”.
Our ipad bar in the teen area is finally finished! We have had ipads in the young children’s area for a long time now, and it’s been long overdue to add some to the teen area. Many kudos to Shellie, Mike, and Terry for their hard work. There are already a lot of apps and games installed on them but suggestions for more are always welcome! We definitely want to know what you’d like us to add for your enjoyment.
The Bartlesville Public Library received a “Zoo Funds for Kids” grant from the Oklahoma City Zoo in order to present two programs during Spring Break, which will be held in the Upstairs Meeting Room on Monday, March 13th. They will be bringing small, live animals!
10:00AM – Just For Kids -“Bear Wants More” – Bear finds some roots to eat, but that’s not enough. He wants more! His friends help him find berries, clover, and fish to eat but that’s not enough. HE WANTS MORE! As participants will discover in Karma Wilson’s award-winning book, “Bear Wants More,” springtime brings lots of new food choices. Folks from the Oklahoma City Zoo will explore all the delicious, gross, and downright weird things animals eat during their springtime buffet!”
1:00PM – For Middle School and High School only – “Ready Set Vet” – This great program is designed to introduce teens to the world of veterinary medicine. Participants will solve a real vet case and do fun, hands-on activities!
These programs are free and open to the public. Call 918-338-4170 for more information.
The annual “Battle of the Books” will be held in the newly-renovated Central Middle School auditorium on Thursday, March 9th at 7:00pm. This event is open to the public so come and witness the showdown between teams from Central, St. John Catholic School, Osage Hills School, and Madison Middle School as they compete for medals and the honor of keeping the traveling trophy at their school for the year. The participants prepare by reading the current Intermediate Sequoyah Book Award nominees and then, at the Battle, try to buzz in the fastest and most often to answer questions about the books. This is a fun, fast-paced, quiz-bowl style competition that spotlights some great books and encourages teamwork from the participating students. Funding is provided by the Bartlesville Friends of the Library.
Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
The current news includes the heartbreaking story of pilot whales beaching themselves on a New Zealand island, dying in droves as the residents try to save them. I cannot but think of the book, The Whale Rider, written by Witi Ihimaera, every time I see the pictures.
This is an old book (1987) but it is one that bears rereading. It is rich in Maori history, and is told in the present tense as well as in the words of the legends and myths showing the Maori relationship with the gods and the creatures of the sea.
“If the story has a beginning, it is with Kahu, “a disappointing girl born in the line of the great chiefs. By custom, leadership falls from the eldest son to the eldest son. To have a great-granddaughter interrupt the line was an inconsolable sorrow to Great-grandfather Koro. He vows to have nothing to do with the child. However, she adores him from the first moment she sees him, and will not be dissuaded from loving him no matter how cruelly he ignores her.
When Koro begins to despair of passing the mantle, he starts classes in Maori traditions, hoping to find a fitting young man to come into the line. While he teaches inside, Kahu is learning outside. Not surprisingly, the teaching takes place in the community building. When Kahu was born off island, her afterbirth was brought back to her island and community, and buried just there. Legend has it that the first golden whale rider threw his last spear to mark his people – and that it had landed, just there.
The story follows Kahu’s young life and her ability to communicate with the sea and its hosts. When whales begin to beach themselves on her island, she is the one to save them from total destruction.
There are tears to be shed here, and much laughter as we meet the various family members, including Koro and his wife, Nanny Flowers, queen of the motorcycle gang, and the narrator, Kahu’s uncle. This book is engrossing and touching, and unfortunately, timely. It has been made into an amazing movie worthy of the book. – Review by Jan Cravens, Youth Services assistant
Moo by Sharon Creech
Yes, there is a cow in the book Moo, written by Sharon Creech. Not only is there a cow, it is a belted Galloway – a black cow with a bold and broad stripe of white around its middle. Originally from Scotland, the breed was nearly lost until placed on an endangered list and carefully bred for its numbers to recover. A belted Galloway decorates the black and white cover of Moo.
Zora, Mrs. Falala’s Belted Galloway, is young and unused to cooperating with humans. She is perfectly happy to occupy a pasture and be left alone. Mrs. Falala is an eccentric who lives alone in Harbor Town, plays a haunting flute – and owns a cat, a hog, a bird, and Zora, the cow.
Reena and Luke along with their parents are newcomers to Maine. A chance meeting in a doctor’s office introduces Reena’s mother to Mrs. Falala, and the story begins from there. Their mom has promised to share some books with Mrs. Falala, and Reena and Luke are designated to deliver them. Unfortunately, they are the wrong books, and somehow, the children are determined to have been disrespectful! As an apology, they are assigned to help Mrs. Falala, a fate worse than death in the children’s minds!
In the process of coming to know Mrs. Falala and her menagerie, the two begin to respect her knowledge, her caring and to love those animals! Reena is chosen to show Zora at the coming livestock show. She leans on her new friends at a nearby farm to learn to groom and train the reluctant cow. But that too is an opportunity for Reena to grow up herself. Luke forms a bond with Mrs. Falala, as well, sharing his love of drawing with her.
This is a good story. Creech incorporates some of the literary devices she used earlier in Love that Dog and Hate that Cat, both explorations of poetry with bold looking type and pages, and that makes reading this book fun. (Recommended for upper elementary and middle schoolers.) — review by Jan Cravens, Youth Services assistant