"Fireflies in the Dark" is an amazing children's book - it covers a dark period in mankind's history, i.e. the Holocaust. This is a difficult enough subject for adults to discuss but how does one convey the story of the Holocaust to children without terrifying them? Well, "Fireflies in the Dark" manages to make this unpalatable and tragic subject accessible to young children.
In this book, the story centers on the true life account of art teacher Friedl Dicker Brandeis who was shipped off to the Terezin [ known as Theresienstadt in German] Concentration Camp, a sort of 'model' camp built by the Nazis for Jews and other people they deemed undesirables during WW II. Although it was not a death camp like Dachau, Treblinka, Mauthausen and Auschwitz-Birkenau, conditions in Terezin were still deplorable with disease and starvation being rampant. When she is transported to Terezin, Ms Brandeis [accompanied by her husband] brings along mostly art supplies, as she believes there will be many children in need of an outlet for their loneliness and despair and quickly assumes a teaching position at the camp, freely giving of her services to children - mentoring them and caring for them in the darkest of times.
Friedl Dicker-Brandeis is indeed a heroine of the Holocaust. Although she doesn't survive the death camp, her legacy lives on amongst the works of art by her students [both survivors of the war and those who perished] at the camp. Though only a few of her students actually survived the Nazis' horrific extermination policies, what shines through these works of art [reproduced for readers throughout the book] is theability of art to foster hope no matter how small. It is a testament to the courage and determination of one amazing woman, and also attests to the faith and hope of children during the bleakest of times. Highly recommended for young readers.