Author: Karen Hesse
Illustrator: Wendy Watson
This picture books is a beautiful, touching story of a young Jewish girl living in hiding outside the Ghetto in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. She and her older sister want to smuggle food into their friends still trapped inside the Ghetto, but the Gestapo is using dogs to sniff out any food brought into the area. And so, the girl devises a brilliant, brave plan: they put a number of street cats, all of whom are her dear friends, into baskets and bags and let them out at the checkpoint to distract the dogs, allowing them to get the needed food in to their friends.
The Cats in Krasinski Square is a story as brave and touching as its young heroine. Basing her story on an actual historical event, Karen Hesse describes a WWII story that is both aching and sweet. It doesn’t gloss over the atrocities of that time, but it shows a slice of that era that even younger children could grasp. The illustrations are lovely–clearly showing the darkness of the place, yet soft and sweet and homey at places. The Cats in Krasinski Square is a touching story for audiences of all ages, although I would recommend parental involvement and conversation for younger children–I think it’s a great place to start an intentional conversation with them.