Reviews for Flag With Fifty-Six Stars : A gift from the Survivors of Mauthausen
Booklist Reviews 2005 March #2
Gr. 4-6. When the Americans liberated Austria's Mauthausen concentration camp, a group of survivors presented the commander with an American flag they had secretly sewn from scraps, a symbol of their hope and gratitude. Now that flag (which the prisoners inadvertently made with an extra row of stars) hangs in Los Angeles' Simon Wiesenthal Center and Library Archives, named in honor of the famous Mauthausen survivor. Through the story of that flag, this stirring picture book for older children tells the history of the brutal labor camp and its liberation. There is none of the festivity of Margaret Wild's Let the Celebrations Begin! (1991). Rubin draws on eyewitness accounts and extensive interviews with liberators and prisoners, including Wiesenthal, to document the suffering, the resistance, and, finally, the hope. Farnsworth's somber, dark, unframed paintings show the camp and the marching laborers as well as close-ups of emaciated people sewing in the shadows--and then, free at last. ((Reviewed March 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Fall
This is the true story of the liberation of Mauthausen concentration camp by U.S. Army soldiers on May 6, 1945. In gratitude, the survivors sewed an American flag from scraps of sheets and jackets. The inspiring, though unfocused, text is effectively illustrated with somber paintings. Directory, reading list, sources, websites. Bib., ind. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2005 April #1
The bare bones of the story are remarkable and wrenching: In May 1945, a group of inmates at the infamous death camp, knowing the Americans were approaching, scrounged materials, including Nazi banners, their own ragged clothing and bedsheets, and stitched an American flag with which to greet and honor their saviors. Guessing at the number of stars, the prisoners added an extra row. The colonel in charge was so moved by the gift and by the indomitable spirit of the inmates who created it, that he flew it over the freed camp to the cheers of the joyful survivors, Simon Wiesenthal among them. Today the actual flag, shown in a colored two-page photograph within the text and on this title's back cover, is displayed in Los Angeles in the Museum of Tolerance named for the renowned Nazi hunter. Rubin's slim volume is spare in prose and tone; Farnsworth's paintings are stark, brooding and fittingly rendered mostly in somber colors. A little-known incident brought to heart-rending life. (extensive notes, index, Web sites) (Nonfiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 March #3
Although Rubin and Farnsworth have each worked on books about the Holocaust-Fireflies in the Dark and A Hero and the Holocaust, respectively-this is their first joint effort, a testament to the combined power of their talent. The moving and perhaps lesser known WWII story concerns an American flag made by the prisoners of Mauthausen, the Nazi's slave labor camp, positioned to exploit the nearby Austrian granite. When liberation by the Allies seemed imminent, a group of prisoners stitched together the flag from scrounged fabric and memory, adding an extra row of stars (a photograph on the penultimate spread and on the back cover show the actual flag, which is now at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles). Working in a seamless partnership, Rubin and Farnsworth open the book with a compelling overview of Mauthausen and a glimpse of SS chief Heinrich Himmler's almost unfathomable cruelty ("No one would return from [the camps] alive, he said"). The second half describes the flag's furtive creation and emotional presentation to the thunderstruck Americans troops. Rubin sensitively balances narrative momentum with the voices of real people (she quotes both survivors and liberators, some of whom she interviewed). Farnsworth's realistic oil-on-linen paintings are nothing short of extraordinary. The quietly accomplished compositions in predominantly grey and brown shades never minimize the horror and suffering that took place within Mauthausen, yet his portraits of the prisoners make clear that hope is inextinguishable, even in a world that has abandoned all sense of humanity. Ages 6-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 May #5
In a starred review, PW wrote, "This moving and perhaps lesser known WWII story concerns an American flag made by the prisoners of Mauthausen, the Nazis' slave labor camp." Ages 6-10. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2005 May
Gr 3-5-In the spring of 1945, U.S. troops marched into the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria to liberate surviving prisoners and were given an American flag that had been secretly made by a group of detainees there. This is an inspiring account of the camp, its survivors, and its liberators. Using scraps and whatnot found at the camp, the prisoners secretly worked to create a gift for their American heroes. A photograph shows a carefully hand-stitched and well-thought-out flag. Although it has the correct 13 stripes, the prisoners overestimated the number of stars needed. Nazi atrocities are muted here, but the sorrow, hunger, hopelessness, and, finally, optimism shine through in the pictures and in the text. Large type is set in boxes on softly hued backgrounds. Full-page illustrations intensify the text, and an afterword explains that it is unknown exactly who made the flag. This heartening, unique volume makes a fine introduction to the Holocaust for students just beginning to learn about the evils of the era. The impressive bibliography includes books, videos, interviews, letters, and Internet sites.-Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.