Gratz, Alan. Prisoner B-3087
March 2013, Scholastic Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Yanek's family is living in Krakow when the Germans invade. They, like most other people, thought that the Germans would be quickly turned away. When neighbors start being taken from their building, the entire family moves to a pigeon coop on the roof, where they manage to evade the Nazis, but not for long. Eventually, Yanek's entire family is taken away, and he is taken to ten concentraion camps over a six year period, when he is between the ages of 10 and 16. For a while, he is in a camp with an uncle, but he is soon killed. The uncle had cautioned him to take care of himself first so that he could survive, and Yanek takes this to heart. He works hard, keeps his head low, and survives evil kapos, starvation, death marches, working in the salt mines, and ten camps, including Aushwitz, Birkenau and Dachau. When the Americans finally liberate the camps, he finds a cousin who has survives and applies to go to America. Based on the true story of Jack Gruener.
Strengths: Gratz does excellent historical fiction, and this novelized version of Gruener's life has a wealth of sobering details. From run-ins with people like Mengele, to descriptions of celebrating bar mitzvah's under Nazi rule (even one in a camp), to a harrowing description of him trying to save another boy on a death march, this is an excellent addition to the body of young adult holocaust books. It points out the abject horrors of war but overlays this with Yanek's absolute insistence on his own survivor. Superb.
Weaknesses: I would very much like to see maps included in this. Perhaps the final edition will have them.