Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Secret of the Priest's Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story

Taylor, Peter Lane and Charles Nicola. 2007. THE SECRET OF THE PRIEST’S GROTTO: A HOLOCAUST SURVIVAL STORY. Minneapolis: Kar-Ben. ISBN 9781580132602 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-12]

There are many amazing stories about the courage and resourcefulness of Jews and their protectors during the Holocaust and this book chronicles one of the most amazing. Set in the Ukraine, the book tells the story of a group of families who spent a year and a half living in caves directly under the feet of the patrolling Nazi soldiers. When it became obvious that they would be sent to concentration camps, members of eight families found safety in a maze of underground caves and lived there for almost a year and a half. Almost caught once, most of the group survived and only left the caves after the Nazis were defeated.

The story was largely a rumor until the co-author Nicola, a caving expert, began to ask questions about some finds he had made in an earlier exploration of the cave—old shoes, buttons, a millstone, and stone walls. It took him over ten years to put the pieces together and to track down the survivors who shared with him their amazing stories.

This book would be appropriate for units on the holocaust or on survival. For younger students, it could be paired with Gary Paulsen’s HATCHET for a survival unit or with Lois Lowry’s NUMBER THE STARS for a holocaust unit. For older students, use with THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK or THE HIDING PLACE.

Other survival tales:
Frank, Anne. THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL. ISBN 9780553296983
Lowry, Lois. NUMBER THE STARS. ISBN 9780395510605
Paulsen, Gary. HATCHET. ISBN 9781416925088
Ten Boom, Corrie. THE HIDING PLACE. ISBN 9780800794057
Zusak, Marcus. THE BOOK THIEF. ISBN 9780375831003

By Janet Hilbun

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