In 1912, a well-known doctor and writer named Janusz Korczak designed an extraordinary orphanage for Jewish children in Warsaw, Poland. Believing that children were capable of governing themselves, he encouraged the orphans to elect a parliament, run a court, and put out their own weekly newspaper. Even when Korczak was forced to move the orphanage into the Warsaw Ghetto after Hitler’s rise to power, and couldn’t afford to buy food and medicine for his charges, he never lost sight of his ideals. Fully committed to giving his children as much love as possible during a terrifying time, Korczak refused to abandon them.
In his most beautiful and heartfelt book to date, with evocative acrylic illustrations and spare, poignant prose, Tomek Bogacki tells the story of a courageous man who, during one of the grimmest moments in world history, dedicated his life’s work— and ultimately his life itself—to children.
Beginning with Korczak’s imaginative childhood in 19th-century Warsaw, Bogacki’s (Daffodil, Crocodile) tender but somber book explores the humanitarian’s commitment to children’s rights. He is shown fighting hunger among the indigent, treating children wounded in the Russo-Japanese war and creating an innovative orphanage with a self-governing body of child residents who, despite being relocated to the ghetto during WWII, Korczak refused to abandon. The recurring image of a crowned boy riding a horse, from Korczak’s children’s book King Matt the First, doesn’t temper the stark reality of Korczak and the orphans’ eventual demise in a concentration camp. Ages 5–up. (Sept.)