Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin

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9780823414611: Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin

In December 1942 Freidl Dicker-Brandeis packed her suitcase for the last time. What did she fill it with? Art supplies. Brushes, paints, and paper were her luggage when she was forced by Nazi soldiers to move to the Terezin concentration camp. An artist and art instructor, Freidl used her limited supplies to bring a world of beauty and fantasy to children in the camp―most of whom would die tragically at Auschwitz. This story reveals how flashes of kindness can bring joy and relief―like fireflies in the dark.

The story is enhanced with photographs and reproductions of the amazing artwork completed by Freidl Dicker-Brandeis, her students, and her colleagues during their time at Terezin.

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About the Author:

Susan Goldman Rubin has written several highly praised biographies for children. These include "Frank Lloyd Wright" and "Margaret Bourke-White": "Her Pictures Were Her Life", which "Booklist" called in a starred review, "one of the best biographies of the year." Her other works include "Toilets, Toasters & Telephones": "The How and Why of Everyday Objects" and two young adults novels, "Emily Good as Gold" and "Emily in Love".

From Booklist:

"Of the 15,000 children who passed through Terezin, only 100 survived. But their artwork and writings live on as testimony to their lives and spirits." This heartbreaking picture book tells the children's story by focusing on their remarkable art teacher, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, a Jewish artist from Czechoslovakia, who took art supplies and books with her to the concentration camp and ran secret classes for the children. She and nearly all her pupils perished at Auschwitz, but after the war, 5,000 of the children's drawings, paintings, and collages were discovered hidden in two suitcases. The pictures are now exhibited around the world, and many of them are beautifully reproduced on the pages of this book. Some of the work is naive in style; some is sophisticated. There are portraits, self-portraits, and pictures that show horrific camp conditions and dreams of home (for example, a family Passover supper). The facts, including the dates, in the brief captions make you return to the pictures ("Robert Bondy painted empty landscapes over and over again with his village in the distance"). Rubin interviewed several survivors, and she integrates their personal testimonies with the history of the camp. This is an excellent book to use across the curriculum in Holocaust studies, in art, history, and literature classes with middle-grade and older readers. Rubin's detailed references and sources include books, documentary films and videos, and Web sites to help students who want to know more. There's no sensationalism here. Everything is distanced, but the sense of loss is overwhelming. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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