Nov 01, 2023 Staff Reads: Chance- Escape from the Holocaust
Chance: Escape from the Holocaust by Uri Shulevitz
Reviewed by Michelle Stallman, Youth Services Librarian
The true story of author and illustrator Uri Shulevitz’s childhood, Chance: Escape from the Holocaust is a fascinating autobiographical look into what it was like as a small child fleeing Nazi rule.
The book begins with Uri’s home in Warsaw being bombed, forcing his family to flee on foot to the Soviet Union. Because of anti-Semitic sentiments and a lack of food, Uri’s family faces a difficult time in the USSR. Soon after their arrival, they are forced into a labor camp, where Uri’s family falls ill, deals with constant frigid weather, and faces tough work. Their lives are constantly changing, as every year or so, they must move to a new country again. In fact, they move so often that it can be difficult for the reader to keep track of where they are. However, Shulevitz uses captivating illustrations to guide the reader through what is happening as well as understand his emotions during these events.
Uri’s love for drawing serves as a through line for the story, as it inspires him and keeps him going during his worst hours. Some of his childhood drawings even appear in the book, which helps the reader understand just how old he was while these events were occurring.
Most Holocaust literature, especially for children, is focused around the experiences of Jews living in ghettos or concentration camps, so this book being set in a completely different location made it quite unique. Chance: Escape from the Holocaust explores the experiences of children living as perpetual refugees during the war.
This book would be well-suited for older children who are interested in history, or even for teens and adults who would like to learn more about the Holocaust. Get it in print, or as an eAudio on Libby.