Grade 2-5-"If you save the life of one person, it is as if you saved the world entire." This was the exact sentiment of the Japanese diplomat, Sugihara, and his family in Lithuania in 1941. Contrary to government orders, he issued thousands of visas to Polish Jews who became Sugihara survivors and kept their worn pieces of freedom papers as family treasures. For his selfless acts of kindness, Sugihara received the "Righteous Among Nations" Award and in Yaotsu, Japan, the Hill of Humanity is named in his honor. The Sugihara story is brief and concise, but strong and emotional. It is a story of strong belief in doing what is compassionate and right regardless of the consequences. The strong emotions emerge from the dramatic reading and interpretation by Ken Mochizuki. Children will relate to the feelings of Hiroki, the eldest son, from whose eyes the story is narrated. Respect for family, sensitivity of others, and honor toward parents emanate from the narration. Language differences when the Polish children arrive never make a barrier in play or in empathy. Listening to the story is even more dramatic than reading it. The "Afterword" adds authenticity to the story and brings the entire episode to closure. After listening, teachers can lead discussions about World War II, life-altering decisions, selflessness, compassion, and racial prejudice. This story of honor, love, and compassion presents a view of history that is seldom found in history book. It should be purchased by every public and school library.
Patricia Mahoney Brown, Franklin Elementary School, Kenmore, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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