by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaiz
Book list The book begins with a quote found in Islamic and Jewish traditions: Save one life, and it is as if you've saved all of humanity. Today's problems between these two Abrahamic religions are obvious, but there are moments of brotherhood. During the Nazi occupation of France, Jews were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps. One avenue of refuge was the Grand Mosque in Paris, where Jewish adults and children hid, some briefly until they could be spirited away, others for longer stays. Thanks to the mosque's rector, and particularly Berbers from Algeria, many lives were saved. This is a fascinating, little-known piece of history (the afterword explains how difficult it was to research). The authors sometimes try too hard to explain too much to a middle-grade audience, but they effectively capture the desperation felt by the victims and the enormous effort made by the resistance. The evocative paintings in somber colors heighten the tension, but some, like the one of a Jewish girl in front of an intricately designed mosque wall, capture the hope.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2009 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
School Library Journal Gr 4-6-The authors of Hidden on the Mountain: Stories of Children Sheltered from the Nazis in Le Chambon (Holiday House, 2007) return to France to uncover a little-known story. While they admit that "many of the details are destined to remain forever uncertain, with few facts proven to a historian's satisfaction," Ruelle and DeSaix feel strongly that the bits and pieces of information that they were able to unearth provide convincing evidence that the Muslims of the Grand Mosque of Paris saved Jewish lives. While the format and appearance of this title are similar to other picture books of rescue and resistance during the Holocaust, such as Carmen Agra Deedy's The Yellow Star (Peachtree, 2000) and Ken Mochizuki's Passage to Freedom (Lee & Low, 1997), the text provides more of a descriptive history of events than a retelling of a story. The oil-paint spreads are luminous and beautiful, but they belie the tone of the writing and the presentation of facts. Regardless, this well-researched book belongs on the shelves of most libraries.-Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly While Ruelle admits in her afterword that "many of the details of this story are destined to remain forever uncertain," she and DeSaix (who also collaborated on Hidden on the Mountain) have pieced together a fascinating history of how the North African Muslim community of Paris and the Grand Mosque secretly harbored Jews and others after the Nazi invasion ("It was... an oasis hidden behind high walls right in the middle of the city"). The story isn't always easy to follow-it is by necessity episodic-though Ruelle provides ample detail and explanation, and DeSaix's moody oils provide the emotional and narrative ballast. Working mostly in double-page spreads, she masterfully conveys how the compound's serene, exotic interiors offered reassurance during desperate times. In one of the most striking images, a Jewish girl stands solemnly in front of one of the mosque's elaborately tiled walls; it's as if the mosaic's beauty and scale had a talismanic power, capable of warding off an otherwise horrible fate. Ages 8-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved