Monday, March 18, 2013

GREENHORN by Anna Olswanger

Greenhorn is a different kind of Holocaust story. For one thing, it's suitable for younger readers and for another, it takes place in Manhattan.

Set in a Yeshiva (Elementary School that teaches Jewish and secular subjects) the story is told from the viewpoint of Aaron, a 6th grader. 

One day, Aaron's teacher, Rabbi Ehrlich announces that twenty new students will be enrolling. The parents of all these new boys  have died in concentration camps in Poland. Aaron knows about concentration camps.  He knows a lot of things which he tries to share with his fellow students but they don't care about his knowledge.  Instead they taunt him because he stutters.

When the new boys arrive, one of them, Daniel, is especially peculiar.  Daniel rarely speaks and he carries a small tin box around like a stuffed animal or security blanket.  Naturally the boys hassle him about this.

Aaron tries to befriend Daniel and although he's curious about the box he does not pressure him as the other boys do.  Then one day, the other boys tackle Daniel, the box falls open, and the contents roll outThe boys all find out exactly what is in the box and why Daniel clings so desperately to it.

Author, Olswanger includes a glossary of Jewish terms used in the book.  And I especially loved the "Afterward" in which she explains the real life story behind this fictionalized account.

Miriam Nerlove illustrates the story with exquisite water colors.

This is a great book for younger readers because the New York setting provides some emotional distance from a deeply painful topic. At 48 pages, it's a quick read.  Perfect for boys although girls will absolutely want to read it also. 

Author Anna Olswanger and publisher, NewSouth Books are of giving away a copy of GREENHORN with 2 autographs - the author's and the main character's.  (His real name isn't Aaron but the character himself is real and still living.)

To enter, leave a comment here or email Carol Baldwin and I through our Talking Story newsletter. The March April theme is the Holocaust so hop on over there and check out some Holocaust related resources.


  1. Thanks for the review, Joyce. I didn't know about this book. I will be checking it out. And thanks for the chance to win.

  2. I've already read and reviewed this book, but agree that it's a wonderful way to introduce children to the Holocaust.

  3. Good luck, Rosi! We'll enter you in the contest.

    Shannon, thanks for letting me know you have read and reviewed Greenhorn. We'll enter you anyway and if you win, you can share with a school or another book blogger. Okay?

  4. This sounds fascinating! As we get farther from WWII and the Holocaust, it's important to teach our children, lest history repeat itself. I'm glad there are book that are suitable to all ages.

  5. Hi Jennifer,

    We'll enter you in the contest and maybe you'll get to see just how fascinating it is. Either way, do check it out.

  6. Thanks for reviewing this book Joyce!

  7. Hi Joyce,

    Thanks for letting us know about this book. It sounds like a great one. I can't wait to find out what is in the tin box!

  8. Thank you for sharing this book with us, Joyce. I've put it on my list as a must read. Yes, I would love to be entered in the contest. Aaron is a boy I want to read about!

  9. Great review, Joyce. Anna sent me a copy of Greenhorn and I loved it. She told Daniel's story with such sensitivity and understanding. It is an ideal book for introducing the Holocaust to elementary age kids.

  10. Lorrie and Clara, thanks for dropping in. I'm entering you both in the contest. Yes, Lorrie, knowing what's in the tin box is crucial.

    Alex, I need to pop over and read your review of Greenhorn. I missed it! Want to be entered in the contest? You can always give your copy to a school.

  11. You beat me to the punch by a day. I've been scooped:) I reviewed GREENHORN at the blog today and I loved it. This is a wonderful review of a wonderful book.

  12. Robert, I'm glad this book is getting so much press.

    I agree with your statement:
    "Giving children Greenhorn at an earlier age allows them to dip their feet and not get completely sucked under."

    But even so it is tough material.

  13. Joyce, once again you've introduced us to wonderful historical fiction. Thanks for making me aware of this book. Would love to win a copy!

  14. Hi Peggy, I'll enter you. You too, Robert - even though you blogged it. If you win, you can give it to a lucky student or school.

  15. thanks for dropping in, I agree with your statement. It sounds like a great one. I can't wait to find out what is in the tin box!