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Mapping the Bones

Review

Mapping the Bones

Early in their journey trying to escape the fearful Nazis, Chaim and his twin, Gittel, are separated from their parents. They don’t know what has happened to them, but they do know that now they must go on without them. Something has gone terribly wrong. They travel with Sophie and her brother Bruno who are close in ages to the twins. Sophie and Bruno, along with their parents, had been living with Chaim’s family. Now they try to follow the careful instruction laid out for them but are soon intercepted.

For a short while the children seem to be moving in the right path. But they must wonder, who is a friend? Who is a traitor? Who really knows? The odds are against them. The miles are long, the enemies are everywhere and the risks are high. They are cold, hungry, frightened and weary beyond words.

"Both young adults and adults will find this book both riveting as well as educational. Though not a pleasant story, it is a story that needs to be told."

They see bloodshed and violence before finally arriving at the camp, but continue hoping their parents will be there. Sadly they never see their parents again and this camp is a Nazi death camp. There they experience the most unspeakable evils ever imagined, yet nothing, absolutely nothing, prepares them for meeting the infamous Doctor Von Schneir. This doctor has a special interest in twins and he likes to experiment without anesthesia.

Jane Yolen, author of the award-winning THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC, among numerous other fine works, has based this fictional story on many real incidents. For instance, Doctor Von Schneir, she explains, is based upon the monstrous Doctor Mengele and others like him. The horrors of the death camps and the thousands of persons who died in them are not exaggerated. She also explains how the poetic Chaim and his sister Gittel, are like Hansel and Gretel of the dark fairy tale --- a universal story of good and bad, of children in the grips of adult evil.

There are real heroes in MAPPING THE BONES, just as there were during the actual Holocaust. Against all odds some do escape or are rescued and live to tell of their experiences. Yolen gives us some of their stories in this book --- stories to be horrified by and to never forget.

Both young adults and adults will find this book both riveting as well as educational. Though not a pleasant story, it is a story that needs to be told. The bravery of these children gives one hope.

With the focus on the WWII Holocaust, this will be a book that should be in all schools and public libraries.

Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts on March 27, 2018

Mapping the Bones
by Jane Yolen