My Mother's Voice: Children, Literature and the Holocaust, by Adrienne Kurtzer

Article excerpt

Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2002, 384p. $24.95.

Among the moral tasks that parents and educators bear is the necessity of teaching children about evil. Not the difference between good and evil, which is an easier and more understandable undertaking, but that of teaching children about the existence of evil in the world. One of the means of doing so is through the use of literature meant for children and young adults, that places evil in the context of worldly historical events from the far and recent past. Adrienne Kurtzer's book about children, literature, and the Holocaust addresses this issue through a discussion and analysis of female Holocaust representation in the narrative of historical fiction.

Kurtzer's book is divided into four sections, each of which deals with a different historical-literary phenomenon. The first section, Maternal Voices, deals with both her personal and family experiences with women's Holocaust narratives, and with those of Isabella Leitner. The second section, The Voices of Children, devotes one chapter to reading Anne Frank today, focusing upon the question of innocence in children's voices from the Holocaust. A second chapter in this section is devoted to the production of the historical novel behind "Daniel's Story", the special exhibition concurrent with the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in April 1993.

The book's third section -- The Child in the Picture -- deals with two additional issues. The first is Holocaust representation in Roberto Benigni's "Life is Beautiful" and Anita Lobel's memoir, "No Pretty Picture: A Child of War. …

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