Monday 22 October 2012

The Cats in Krasinski Square

"They belonged once to someone.  They slept on sofa cushions and ate from crystal dishes.  They purred...nuzzling the chins of their beloveds."

These are the opening lines of the picture book The Cats in Krasinski Square based on a true story about a little girl and her sister who escape the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw, Poland.  The girl visits the square each day and plays with the cats whose families have either abandonned them or can no longer afford to feed them.  The little girl and her sister plan to smuggle food through the walls of the ghetto to their friends.  They are expecting a train to arrive filled with Jewish Resistance members carrying satchels with "bread, groats and sugar". 

However, they expect that the Gestapo will be waiting at the train station with attack dogs, ready to sniff out the smuggled food.  Outwitting the Gestapo, the little girl and her friends gather up the cats in Krasinki Square and hide them in baskets.  They arrive at the train station and wait for the train to appear.  When it whistles to a stop, they let the cats out of the baskets.  Chaos ensues!  The dogs chase the cats which gives the "smugglers" (Jewish Resistance) a chance to get away.  The food vanishes over, under and through the cracks in the wall of the ghetto, "taken by grateful hands". 

The language in this book is beautiful.  The pictures are excellent.  The illustrator effectively shows an aerial view of the Warsaw Ghetto.  He also shows the many war-torn buildings and the piles of rubble.  And the story is heart warming. 

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