Friday, September 26, 2008

T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte

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
My visual
Was so

A breeze
The leaves
A tree

Ran fast
Past me
It looked
A tidal

The motion
A hand
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:

"Poor Kurt
Wrapped his dreams
Around him
Like a patchwork quilt.

He slept
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...)

More info:
  • 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.


  1. I'm not a fan of poetry in general (I just can't seem to get into it) but this was quite interesting. I think a short book written in this format WOULD be a good read - thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Sounds interesting. I hope to give it a look!

  3. I have really been enjoying free verse novels this past year and I always am intrigued with Holocaust books. Thanks for this recommendation, I'm off to see if the library has this one.

  4. This book's on my TBR list and your excellent review just bumped it up to the front! :D Thanks for posting!

  5. Heather: I'm not as into poetry as many others are, and I really enjoyed this short read.

    Kelly: I hope you like it if you get a chance to read it.

    Natasha: Funny, I was going to leave a comment on your blog to check this book out because I've seen how you're interested in Holocaust-related books. I think you'd really like this one, especially since you've been enjoying free verse novels.

    Abby: I look forward to hearing what you think about the book. Enjoy!

  6. My oldest daughter is interested in WWII books and she would love that this is written in free verse. Thanks.

  7. Sounds fascinating--I just put it on reserve at my library. Thanks for introducing me to it!

  8. Karen E.: I hope your daughter enjoys this book. I really liked the free-verse format.

    Laura: Enjoy!

  9. Ann Clare LeZotte is one of the poets that started the career during the era of the Nazis, I think that the lines that you share are really demonstrative and wonderful!!22dd

  10. I'm tired of all these oeuvres related to WWII, I have enough of this stuff!