For today's Poetry Friday selection, I'm reviewing Ann Clare LeZotte's debut novel, T4. Written in free verse, T4 tells the story of Paula Becker, a thirteen year old German girl who is deaf and a target of the Nazis who were ordered to kill disabled people under Action T4. With the assistance of the family's priest, Father Josef, young Paula goes into hiding until she can safely return to her family.
This is a fast-paced and touching read that brings attention to a story that many may not have heard much about. But what makes this book special is LeZotte's sparse free verse that not only tells Paula's story but also effectively conveys the voice and fears of a thirteen-year-old girl. The beginning of the book focuses on Paula's childhood before Action T4 and both her and her family's struggle to cope with her disability.
This passage was especially expressive:
"What I Saw
Me. " (pp. 8-9)
Here's part of her description of Poor Kurt, a kind man she meets in the shelter where she's hiding:
Wrapped his dreams
Like a patchwork quilt.
Almost every night
At the shelter.
He slept all day too.
His bushy beard
Appeared to be gray,
But he never washed,
So I couldn't tell...." (p. 52)
LeZotte makes the story and characters come alive in a book that literally took me 20 minutes to read. Through Paula, she is able to tell the horrific story of Action T4 and the Holocaust without going into graphic details. Because the book is short and written in free verse, there are not many details, so be prepared to answer many questions after children finish reading the book.
Not only will this make a great addition to a home or school library, but it would also make a great supplementary resource in history and language arts classes.
Read an interview with the author at Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature.
What Other Bloggers are Saying:
Flamingnet Young Adult Book Review: "This book is really rich in detail and is a great story. I would say that anybody who is in to learning about WWII should read this book." (Read more...)
- Reading level: Ages 9-12
- Hardcover: 112 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (September 22, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547046847
- ISBN-13: 978-0547046846
- Source of book: Review copy from publisher
The Poetry Friday roundup is at The Miss Rumphius Effect.