Reviews /

The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Die

Authored by Peter Lantos
Published by Scholasic

The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Die is a true and very moving account of a terrible journey that began when Peter was five years old.

Aptly published to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day in January, the book is an account of life under this awful regime Hitler enforced and of, at times, an unbearable first-hand account of a family’s quite extraordinary journey across states and countries and through various concentration and holding camps in the 1940’s.

It is the story of Peter a five-year-old boy who is taken on this journey through no fault of his or of his parents but quite simply because he was Jewish. Told in a very straight forward way, always factual and never shying away from the awful things that happened along the way. There is no sensationalism in this story. This is an account of the difficult and traumatic times encountered by Peter and his family, constantly on the move. Losing more of their possessions and dignity with every move.

It is the tragedy of separation and loss that is at the heart of this story, but also the determination of Peter’s mother. Despite everything that happened to them she never gave up hope that they would not only survive but that one day they would be free and be able to build a future for themselves. Sadly, Peter’s father died from malnutrition whilst in Belson concentration camp and this made her even more determined. Eventually Peter and his mother returned to their home, found what family they had left and rebuilt the woodyard the family had owned before the war. This in no way tells the whole story. This a deeply moving account of life during the Holocaust.

I think this book has a firm place in the classroom and the library. It is clear and concise and the telling of the story from Peter as a child makes it a really good text to use to introduce children to the horrors and atrocities that occurred. There is also a really good set of footnotes at the end of the book telling us what happened to the family after the war. This is such a good resolution to Peter’s story. There is also an excellent glossary of terms and words used in the text.

Bravo Peter.

You can also listen to Peter Lantos talking to Nikki Gamble in The Reading Corner about The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Die here: