Once, there was a young Jewish boy called Felix who lived in an orphanage in Poland. He strongly believed that his parents, both booksellers, had left him there in order to go and find some famous writers and fabulous books for their business, but surely they should be back for him soon enough now.
Once, after escaping from the orphanage, Felix arrived at his old home above his parents’ book-shop to discovered that his parents were not there, neither were their books, and other people were now living in their house and they insulted and chased him away when they saw him approach. Was it because they were unhappy customers of his parents? He understood however that his parents had undoubtedly finally received their visas for the United States of America and had thus sold the shop to open a new one once in the New World. They were certainly looking for him right now in order for all of them to leave!
Once, Felix saved a very young but quite temperamental girl called Zelda from a burning house and together they got caught by the Nazis because, Felix was convinced, he had an illegal notebook with him.
Once, Zelda and Felix became friends and were living in a enormous ghetto with a dentist called Barney and they heard they would be sent to work in the countryside…
Once, written by Morris Gleizman, is a powerful, well-written book. Because it’s a rather short story, and very easy to read, it can be read by children as well as adults, but it might actually move the older readers even more as they will understand more clearly the impact of what is happening around Felix in this year 1942 in Poland. However, it’s also a brilliant story for children to understand what happened during WWII from the point of view of a child like them, with their own vocabulary and innocence – it’s very clever that way.
Felix’s story is fictional, but it represents all the children who have died in the Holocaust and whose stories have never been told. It will stay on my mind for a long time and I strongly recommend it.