The Cats in Krasinski Square
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Set in Warsaw during World War II, this picture book format story draws on accounts written by members of the Jewish Resistance. Two sisters, one much younger than the other, show great resourcefulness as they struggle to survive without their family amid the devastation brought about by conflict. They, with the help of others, devise an ingenious plan to bring food and other essentials to the people behind Warsaw’s Ghetto walls.
The story lingers in the memory because of the powerful and poetic way in which it is written, from the viewpoint of the younger sister.
‘My watery soup, my potato,
so much more
than my friend Michal gets
behind the Wall of the Ghetto.’
The illustrations show human and animal figures bounded by a thick black line giving them substance within a bleak and deprived urban landscape. The sense of a place at a particular time in history is achieved by atmospheric scenes in a restricted palette of greys and browns. The cameos revealing the climax of the story, when the cats are let loose to cause chaos at a railway station, are wonderfully realised in a dynamic double spread. This is an involving and moving story which plays a part in showing children some of the harsh realities of war and oppression.