Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mock Newbery/Printz : Guardian Angel House by Kathy Clark

Title: Guardian Angel House
Author: Kathy Clark
Publisher: Second Story House
ISBN: 978-1-897187-58-6
This historical fiction about a young teen living in Budapest, Hungary who winds up hidden with her younger sister in a Catholic convent makes a contribution to this genre. It is 1944 and of course in Hungary, which was one of the last countries to affect the Jews, it is no longer safe. Even though Hungary was slow, it was particularly effective in instituting an accelerated program of eradication of the Jews. Fortunately for Susan, a young teen, her mother's close family friend is accutely aware and pushes her mother to place the two girls. The placement winds up being a Catholic convent. The description of life with the nuns is excellent. From becoming one of the gardeners to caring for the younger children, Susan learns and appreciates their generosity. She especially develops a close relationship with one nun who later sacrifices herself to protect Susan and her sister. This book will not be a candidate for either Printz or Newbery but I did enjoy it. The author based the story on that of her mother and aunt who stayed at an actual convent called the Sisters of Charity. The way the nuns cared for the girls and expanded their dormitory to help other children is very touching and vivid. The fact that some of the nuns do lose their lives shows how dangerous the entire operation really was. The whole relationship between these youngest Jews and the nuns is very respectful and humane, something to think about and consider.
Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

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