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Hana's Suitcase [Paperback]

Karen Levine
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 7 2002 Holocaust Remembrance Series for Young Readers (Book 3)
In March 2000, a suitcase arrived at a children's Holocaust education center in Tokyo, Japan from the Auschwitz museum in Germany. Fumiko Ishioka, the center's curator, was captivated by the writing on the outside that identified its owner: "Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Waisenkind (the German word for orphan)." Children visiting the center were full of questions. Who was Hana Brady? Where did she come from? What was she like? What happened to her? Inspired by their curiosity and her own need to know, Fumiko began a year of detective work, scouring the world for clues. Her search led her from present-day Japan, Europe and North America back to 1938 Czechoslovakia to learn the story of Hana Brady, a fun-loving child with wonderful parents, a protective big brother, and a passion for ice skating, their happy life turned upside down by the invasion of the Nazis.

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Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7-Based on a Canadian Broadcasting radio documentary produced by Levine, this book tells the story of Hana Brady, a girl killed at Auschwitz, and how her suitcase came to be a part of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center. A CD recording of the radio program is available and adds to the impact and power of the book. The story ends on a positive note by ultimately uniting Japanese schoolchildren fascinated by Hana's story with her brother George Brady, the only member of their immediate family to survive the war. The book alternates between past and present, one chapter telling the story of Hana's childhood in the Czechoslovakian resort town of Nove Mesto, and the next relating the experiences of Fumiko Ishioka, a teacher dedicated to educating the children of Japan about the horrors of the Holocaust. Black-and-white photographs of Hana and her family and Ms. Ishioka and her students accompany each chapter. As Hana's narrative draws her to Auschwitz and to the end of her life, Fumiko's story brings her closer to the solution of a puzzle that began with only a suitcase and a name. The narrative moves quickly, though the writing is often oversimplified. One can assume that direct quotes come from the memories of Hana's brother, George Brady, and Fumiko Ishioka, since they were the original narrators of the radio program, but there are no notes to that effect. Unfortunately, the stilted writing and lack of source notes mar an otherwise gripping story of a family's love and a teacher's dedication. An additional purchase for Holocaust collections.
Martha Link, Louisville Free Public Library, KY
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. Not another heartbreaker about a child in the Holocaust. Yes, but this one has a new contemporary connection. Alternating chapters tell not only of the Jewish Hana Brady's deportation with her older brother, George, from their happy home in Czechoslovakia, first to Terezin, and then to Auschwitz (where Hana died); but also of Fumiko Ishioka, now a director of a newly established Holocaust education center in Tokyo, who acquires Hana's suitcase, pursues Hana's story, and brings it to today's Japanese children. The account, based on a radio documentary Levine did in Canada (a CD of the broadcast is included), is part history, part suspenseful mystery, and always anguished family drama, with an incredible climactic revelation. The facts are inescapable, illustrated with glowing family photos, Nazi official documents that show Hana's fate, and pictures she drew in the secret art classes in Terezin. The one false note is Levine's showing everything before the Nazis as totally idyllic, and all the victims (even in the camps) as always wise and loving. Recommend this with Linda Sue Park's When My Name Was Keoko (2002), about a Korean child under Japanese occupation during World War II. Winner of the 2002 Sydney Taylor Award for Older Readers. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written, intensely moving account Feb. 15 2004
By A Customer
Aimed at a pre-teen, early-teen audience, Hana's Suitcase appeals to all ages. I read the book with my 11 year old over a few nights: he was riveted by the story in a way I've rarely seen. Other parents report similar reactions. The book is illustrated with many poignant family photos and original documents. Hana's Suitcase will greatly advance your child's undertsanding of the Holocaust and of humanity's capacity for both great evil and tremendous compassion. I've recommended the book successfuly to many others; my son's class will soon study it. Be forewarned, especially if you are a parent: you may find the final chapters impossible to read without losing your composure. It is a story of unbearable loss and ultimate healing. The book follows an original radio documentary, which can be heard at the website of CBC Radio.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly moving story Feb. 8 2010
I was in tears many times while reading this book. As others have already said, it is the true story of Hana and George Brady, and their experience as Czech Jews during the Holocaust. It is also the story of Fumiko Ishioka, the director of the Holocaust Education Resource Centre in downtown Tokyo, Japan; and her determination to find out who Hana Brady was, and the story behind Hana's battered brown suitcase, which was sent to Fumiko from Auschwitz after she contacted Holocaust museums around the world, asking for artifacts that she could display and use to teach Japanese children about the Holocaust (the suitcase sent to Fumiko from Auschwitz was in fact a copy - Hana's original suitcase, along with hundreds of other suitcases belonging to concentration camp victims, was unfortunately destroyed in a suspicious nighttime warehouse fire in 1984 in England, during a Holocaust exhibition).

The book is very well-written, and alternates chapters between Czechoslovakia in the 1930s and early 1940s, Tokyo in the year 2000 - early 2001, and Toronto in the year 2000 - early 2001. Sprinkled liberally throughout the book are many photographs, mostly of Hana and George Brady and their family before the war, but also of Fumiko and the group of Japanese children from her Centre that call themselves Small Wings.

Having read the book, I looked online for further information, and found a beautiful website run by the Brady family, devoted to the story of Hana and her suitcase: [...] .
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars seamless connection between then and now April 30 2003
Youngsters ages 10-14 will enjoy the suspense that Levine builds as we follow Japanese curator Fumiko on her quest to find the owner of a Jewish child's suitcase entrusted to her Holocaust Museum for a children's exhibit. Levine weaves the mystery and intensity of Fumiko's modern-day search with touching, but not overly sentimental, stories from Hana's past from 1938-1944. We begin to care for Hana and her family, while simultaneously unravelling the clues that lead Fumiko into the past.
Children will enjoy the simultanous stories, which are easy to follow. Teachers or parents will love to see their children watching Fumiko at work, bringing alive the real work of historians, and bringing little Hana's legacy to life. Inclusion of Hana's drawings made in the Terazin ghetto, as well as photographs of Hana and her family in Czechosolvakia, and photos of Fumiko and her children's group, give the book something extra special. Over 60,000 people have seen the museum exhibit that inspired the book, and I'm sure that it will be millions once this book is *truly* discovered!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very touching Oct. 27 2008
A suitcase belonging to a Hana Brady gets to the children's Holocaust education centre in Tokyo in the year 2000. It immediately propels students and teachers alike to find out more about this mysterious girl. Thanks to their invaluable work, they are able to retrace Hana's story. This book is the result of their search for the truth.

A clear, simple narrative delivers a vivid picture of what happened. It was touching to see the dedication and interest of the children and of Ms. Ishioka to find out as much information as possible with just a name to start with. Well done.

I believe that this book is also suitable to readers aged 12+.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars heart-wrenching truth Nov. 3 2010
By annie51
Verified Purchase
I read this to my Grade 3/4 class - and then the author, Karen Levine, came to our school. They had lots of questions - I'm glad I helped open their eyes to how fortunate they are to be where they are.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about a girl from the Holocaust March 18 2003
By A Customer
This book was so sad! It is about this suitcase that arrives to a Holocaust Center in Japan and the story behind the little girl who used own it. The curator Fumiko crosses half the planet to find out what happened to Hana as she was taken from her home and killed just because she was Jewish. I really didn't understand what happened at the Holocaust until I read this book. Hana Brady had a normal life until the war started. Do we really need to destroy people's lives with a war, again?
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