Fania's Heart

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

A short, but extremely moving and true, account of Sorale who finds a tiny heart-shaped book belonging to her mother, Fania. It had been made by her friends in the camp at Auschwitz as a birthday gift and was filled with encouraging messages. She had managed to keep it hidden until her release and it is now on show in a museum. Her story is one of courage during what must have been the most difficult and horrendous time of her life. Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for an ARC.
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Whilst enjoyable, I felt like it was hard to picture the audience that this book was written for. The format suggested it was aimed at young readers, however the actual content and style of writing suggested a slightly older audience was in mind. The story was well written but I feel like it could have benefited from being aimed older with more content included, rather than stuck in a kind of limbo zone.
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Fania’s Heart by Anne Renaud and Richard Rudnicki is another beautiful offering from Second Story Press.  A story inspired by Fania Landau Fainer, a Jewish prisoner imprisoned at Auschwitz during the Second World War.  Her heart is a card, crafted meticulously and at great risk by her fellow prisoners, for her 20th birthday.  Filled with nineteen birthday messages in several different languages, the heart is one of only a very few objects to have survived that was created by the prisoners.  The heart speaks to the resilience and the strength of those who where imprisoned and the very failure of the Nazi campaign to weaken and destroy all those who were deemed “racially inferior”,

In a story told in the voice of Fania’s daughter Sorale, she speaks of her mother’s secrets, some that were shared and some that were hidden.  When Sorale finds the heart hidden in a lace handkerchief, she wonders whether this is a secret that will be shared.  In a beautifully written talk between mother and daughter, Fania tells Sorale the story behind the heart and the powerful meaning in the messages written to her.  Anne Renaud has carefully crafted Fania’s story in a way that is understandable and truly demonstrates the resilience of those who were imprisoned simply because of their faith.  With a wonderful section at the back to give the background to the story, Fania’s Heart is a beautiful non-fiction picture book for your older readers.  With beautiful illustrations by Richard Rudnicki, depicting life in the camps and the factories and camps, this story is a perfect compliment to any discussion about bias, World War II, resilience, and the power of words.  

The real “Heart of Auschwitz” now resides at the Montreal Holocaust Museum for all to witness the power of words.
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Fania's Heart is a short story but it has so much meat to it. An image book telling the story of a young girl who finds a small book in her mothers belongings. Her mother goes onto tell her how it was a gift from friends when she was held in a Nazi concentration camp. the story is unbelievably moving and i truly hope more people are able to read it.
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This is such a small book. One with only a few pages and no one page is filled with words. And yet it is filled with so much emotion; from sadness and despair to hope and freedom. 

I read the main story and wondered to myself two things: 

1) How could I ever read this bittersweet story to a child? And at what age would I be okay reading it to them? 

2) Is it truly possible that a tiny heart was created in a concentration camp? 

While I still perhaps unsure of the answer to the first item, the answer to the second one truly astonished me. This is a TRUE STORY. While I was a bit choked up reading the story itself (as it's very moving) when I moved on to read the last pages that outline that Fania's Heart is a true story. Fania's Heart is a relic of Auschwitz that is in a museum in Montreal and was owned by a Jewish woman of 20 years old imprisoned there during WWII. She eventually came to Canada following the war which is how it came to be at a museum in Montreal. 

I'm not a crier most days but this is an unbelievably moving story. The simplicity of it as a children's illustrated book is part of what makes it so moving, in my opinion. You don't need a lot of words or pictures to tell a story like this.  You only need some symbolism, context and genuine truth. 

Upon writing this and reflecting upon Fania's Heart I have decided that I would read this story to any child, of any age if they asked. Because at it's core this is a story of hope, courage and love. All wonderful things to teach our children of from any age. I encourage everyone to look for this story, even if only to leaf through it at your library and experience the story of Fania's Heart. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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This bittersweet book is a true story.  

Sorale, a ten-year-old girl is rummaging through her mother's bedroom drawers and stumbles upon a very curious object.  She gently picks it up and realizes it is a tiny heart-shaped book. When she opens it she finds the pages unfold like petals on a flower.  Inscribed on each page are handwritten words of different languages that she is unable to read or decifier.  

She's never seen this little book before and she wonders why her mother has never shown it to her.  She takes it straightway to her mother who painfully relates the sad story behind this beautiful, treasured keepsake.

"Fania's Heart" is about a valued gift (a little book) that was designed and created for Fania while she was held in Auschwitz.  
She relates to her daughter the hardships and trials she faced while there and the coveted friendships she made with the other female prisoners.  It was her birthday and those beloved women took it upon themselves (perhaps even sacrificing their own lives if caught by the guards) and with unbelievable courage, fierce loyalty to one another, and unconditional love they crafted a birthday card just for her.  On each petal of the book they wrote in their own language birthday wishes for their friend.  

Her mother reveals with mixed emotions her deep, deep sadness of  being held captive and the cruelty she sustained while in the prisoner-of-war camp.  She then relates the euphoria and happiness everyone felt when she receives that precious birthday card from her fellow-inmates and true friends.  

 The original "Fania's heart" is homed now in the Montreal Holocaust Museum and the author has added the historical details of the little book and photos to authenticate the source.  It is a heartfelt story and one that would serve well in classrooms and libraries everywhere.  I highly recommend this book.
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Wow.

I thought I had read enough of Nazis and concentration camps.  Does the world need one more book about it, including a picture book.

Yes, they do.  This picture book is the story of a real woman who lived and survived Auschwitz, and on her 20th birthday received the little heart birthday card shown in these pictures below.




It is always important, to repeat stories that we don't want to happen again.  Each new generation needs to hear of what happened in the past, as the last of the survivors die off.

Very gentle, but real book.  Highly recommend this to one and all.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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