The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs by Chana Stiefel, illustrated by Susan Gal

Published by Scholastic Press

Summary:  Yaffa Eliach had a happy childhood in the Jewish town (shtetl) of Eishyshok, playing with her friends and older brother and helping her grandmother in her photography studio.  But when Yaffa was six years old, German tanks rolled in and the village, along with most of its inhabitants, was destroyed.  Yaffa’s family managed to flee and lived in hiding for the next several years.  They left their possessions behind except for a few photographs Yaffa hid in her shoe.  After the war, Yaffa moved first to Israel, and then to the United States, where she became a history professor specializing in the Holocaust.  When the Holocaust Museum was built in Washington, DC, President Jimmy Carter asked Yaffa to create an exhibit to show the lives of people who were lost.  Yaffa searched all over the world for photographs of people who had lived in Eishyshok.  Over the course of 17 years, she traveled to six continents to collect over 1,000 photos that were turned into the “Tower of Life” exhibit at the Holocaust Museum.  Includes a timeline of Yaffa’s life, a bibliography, and a brief author’s note.  40 pages; grades 1-4.

Pros:  An inspiring story of an amazing woman who emerged from tragedy to create a beautiful tribute that celebrates the lives of those who died in the Holocaust.  The illustrations capture those lives as well, incorporating photos into the paintings.

Cons:  I would have liked more information about Yaffa in the back matter.

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