Built by Angels

As legend tells it, the Old-New Synagogue in Prague was built by angels, and later was home to a golem who remains locked away in the building to this day. In lyrical prose, Mark Podwal shares the story of the world’s oldest active synagogue, which was completed in 1270. Throughout the years, this sacred place of prayer and celebration has endured plagues, wars, and the Nazi regime. Its story is part legend, part history, and one that stands as a testament to the perseverance of the Jewish people.

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Peter Sis draws us into the world that shaped him–Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. World War II had ended, and the Germans had left, but Czechoslovakia was still an occupied country, this time by the Russians. As tensions between Eastern Europe and the free world intensified, borders to the West were fortified with fences and walls–the Iron Curtain had descended. Behind it were many people who wanted to be free. And as Peter grows up, he becomes one of them.

Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sís shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe. But adolescence brought questions. Cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Sís learned about beat poetry, rock ’n’ roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow long, secretly read banned books, and joined a rock band. Then came the Prague Spring of 1968, and for a teenager who wanted to see the world and meet the Beatles, this was a magical time. It was short-lived, however, brought to a sudden and brutal end by the Soviet-led invasion.

The Three Golden Keys

A man in a hot-air ballon is thrown off course in a violent storm, landing him in the city of his youth. He finds the way to his old home, but the house is dark, with three rusty padlocks on the door. A black cat with eyes of fire appears and leads him through Prague’s silent streets and monuments in seach of the three golden keys that will open the door of his boyhood home and restore the city to life.

Look Out, Suzy Goose

Children are sure to smile as Suzy sets off to the woods in search of peace and quiet — cluelessly evading a trail of hungry critters in her wake.One afternoon all the geese are honking — except Suzy Goose, who is heading off to escape the noise. Suzy loves being alone in the woods, but the fox (TIPTOE), the wolf (CREEP, CREEP), and the bear (PAD, PAD) on her trail have other things in mind!

The Cabinet of Wonders

Petra Kronos has a simple, happy life. But it’s never been ordinary. She has a pet tin spider named Astrophil who likes to hide in her snarled hair and give her advice. Her best friend can trap lightning inside a glass sphere. Petra also has a father in faraway Prague who is able to move metal with his mind. He has been commissioned by the prince of Bohemia to build the world’s finest astronomical clock. Petra’s life is forever changed when, one day, her father returns home – blind. The prince has stolen his eyes, enchanted them, and now wears them.

Petra doesn’t know, but she knows this: she will go to Prague, sneak into Salamander Castle, and steal her father’s eyes back. Joining forces with Neel, whose fingers extend into invisible ghosts that pick locks and pockets, Petra finds that many people in the castle are not what they seem, and that her father’s clock has powers capable of destroying their world.

I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree: A Memoir of a Schindler’s List Survivor

In the spring of 1942 Hannelore received a letter from Mama at her school in Berlin, Germany–Papa had been arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Six weeks later he was sent home; ashes in an urn. Soon another letter arrived. “The Gestapo has notified your brothers and me that we are to be deported to the East–whatever that means.” Hannelore knew: labor camps, starvation, beatings. How could Mama and her two younger brothers bear that? She made a decision: She would go home and be deported with her family. Despite the horrors she faced in eight labor and concentration camps, Hannelore met and fell in love with a Polish POW named Dick Hillman. Oskar Schindler was their one hope to survive. Schindler had a plan to take eleven hundred Jews to the safety of his new factory in Czechoslovakia. Incredibly both she and Dick were added to his list. But survival was not that simple. Weeks later Hannelore found herself, alone, outside the gates of Auschwitz, pushed toward the smoking crematoria.