Monday, June 10, 2013

Mini-Review: Maximilian Kolbe: Saint of Auschwitz by Elaine Murray Stone

Summary:  Based on first-hand information. Here is the first English biography for middle graders on Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan who, at Auschwitz, offered himself in exchange for the life of a man with two children. The biography covers Kolbe's early life, his work as a journalist, and his founding of Niepokalanow, the world's largest friary. Kolbe's act of love and faith teaches young readers important lessons that Christianity means more than just going to church, that the Holocaust actually happened, and that saints can be as real and modern as the person standing next to you in line. For first-hand research, the author traveled to Poland to visit where Kolbe lived and to interview people who actually knew him, including his cousin, his secretary, and one of his students. In addition, the foreword is by Ted Wojtkowski, a fellow camp prisoner and now a well-known Polish American who was standing close to Kolbe when he made his offer of self-sacrifice. Kolbe's story is ideal for children of Polish descent, parochial schools, parish libraries, classes in cultural diversity, and classes on World War II or the Holocaust. And, while written simply enough for children, this book will move all readers showing just how much the human spirit can achieve.

Mini-Review:  Love, love, love this book.  I bought it when I was researching Kolbe, not only becuse it has first person accounts, but it was written for young adults/middle grade readers, so I figured I'd get a quick overview of the life of the saint.  Fuggedaboutit!  Stone easily matches any adult level biography for information and outshines most for writing skill.  Highly recommended for religious education teachers or for anyone wanting to know more about this remarkable man.

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