The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield

The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz: A True Story Retold for Young Readers by Jeremy Dronfield. Quill Tree Books, 2023. 9780063236172

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book? The book follows the Kleinmann family from Austria during the Nazi era. Fritz and Papa were taken to prison camps; they were separated twice, but reunited both times (one being after the war). This is the main focus of the story as it is based on talks and writings of Fritz in later years. The two were starved, beaten, worked hard, and separated from the rest of their family for years. At one point Papa was selected to be transferred to Auschwitz. Agonizing over being separated, Fritz arranges to be transferred as well. They have both heard of the horrors spread about Auschwitz and that there is not much chance they will survive. There are times throughout when they each think the other may have died.

Mama, still in Vienna, was able to arrange transport and sponsorship of her younger son, Kurt, to America. He missed his family, though thrived in the home of his Jewish sponsors. He learned English so well that he found German difficult to understand in his later years. Throughout the war he had little, and then no contact with his family, unsure of their survival for years. He was later able to see some of his family again after the war. Daughter, Edith, was able to make her way to England, which was thought to be safe at the time, but was eventually bombed. The family was not sure if she was alive until after the war but she did survive. Mama and Herta (another daughter) were eventually sent to the Ostland and never seen again.

There is an original, adult version of this book. When the author and Kurt began to talk about that book, the children they met (at publicity events) were amazed to learn that at their age Kurt had traveled halfway around the world to live with people he didn’t know in order to escape the Nazis. This made the author want to write a book for young readers. Further research unearthed new information that is included in this second book. Dronfield manages to include the unpleasant information without going into horrific detail, which makes it appropriate for this audience.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Not at all

To whom would you recommend this book? Teens ages 13-18, looking for an understanding of the struggles of the Jewish plight during the holocaust. Read-a-like: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

Who should buy this book? Middle schools, high schools, and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA 540.5318 Dronfield

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Vicky Tandy, Athol Public Library, Athol, MA

Date of review: March 23, 2023

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