Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page count: 272
Source: Received copy from another blogger
Release Date: March 1 2013
Survive. At any cost. 10 concentration camps. 10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly. It’s something no one could imagine surviving. But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face. As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner — his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087. He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later. Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will — and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside? Based on an astonishing true story.
“Survive at all costs, Yanek. We cannot let these monsters tear us from the pages of the world.”
It doesn’t matter how often you read these stories. They get me every time. The horror of it all is unspeakable. Prisoner B-3087 is a powerful and moving story. We’re all familiar with the concentration camps in World War II. I can’t even begin to imagine how horrible it would have been to be in one. Let alone ten different ones like our protagonist, Yanek. I have read a lot of books on WWII but I’ve never read such an incredible survey of so many different camps. It seems like Yanek has seen it all. The Polish ghettos, Auschwitz, Dachau, the salt mines, not one but two death marches. He even came to face to face with Amon Goeth and Joseph Mengele. This is a true story of survival despite all odds.
One thing that really stands out about Prisoner B-3087 is the simple writing style. This book is aimed at 10-14 years old and I think it is perfect for the age group. It’s never overly explicit in the details – but it doesn’t need to be. The reader doesn’t need a play by play of every violent act to understand how horrific the story is. I also appreciated that the author didn’t add any fancy frills or turn of phrase to the account. I think this kind of story works best when it is straight forward and honest and I think young readers will appreciate that.
Prisoner B-3087 is the kind of book that makes you sit back and think. It made me thankful for everything I have. And it served as a much needed reminder that we can’t ever forget. This should never happen again and yet similar crimes and genocides keep cropping up all over the world. We still need books like Prisoner B-3087 to help get that point across to new generations.
Recommendation: A great book for those just learning about the Holocaust. Highly recommended for middle grade classrooms and libraries.
About the Author
Alan was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of the 1982 World’s Fair. After a carefree but humid childhood, Alan attended the University of Tennessee, where he earned a College Scholars degree with a specialization in creative writing, and, later, a Master’s degree in English education. He now lives with his wife Wendi and his daughter Jo in the high country of Western North Carolina, where he enjoys reading, eating pizza, and, perhaps not too surprisingly, watching baseball.