Great Illustrated Books

Prisoner B-3087

Alan Gratz, Ruth and Jack Gruener

Scholastic Press
Pages : 272
Suggested Ages: 10 & Up
ISBN: 9780545459013

Alan Gratz presents an utterly riveting story of survival and perseverance captured through the eyes and voice of a boy forced to grow up before his time during World War II in Poland. Based on the true story of Jack Gruener, Prisoner B-3087 lays bare the torture one boy endured for six long years through placement in ten concentration camps, work details, death marches, cattle car train rides, starvation, thirst, and beatings.

“If I had known what the next six years of my life were going to be like, I would have eaten more.  I wouldn’t have complained about brushing my teeth, or taking a bath, or going to bed at eight o’clock every night.  I would have played more.  Laughed more.  I would have hugged my parents and told them I loved them.”

In a world upturned by evil and surrounded by death, Yanek finds the courage to push through each inhumane experience forced on him and the other prisoners. Readers will be drawn into Yanek’s quest to live and appreciate his ability to continue to find humanity, sensitivity, and respect for others when he is advised to become “anonymous” if he wants to survive.

“I will fight back…I will run…I won’t go like a sheep to slaughter!”

Although Gratz’s story will capture the heart of most readers, it will especially appeal to male readers who may have found it difficult to connect with the female voice in Diary of Anne Frank. 

Reviewed by : MJI

Themes : Battles and War. Biographical Fiction. Historical Fiction. Holocaust (1939-1945). Jews. Survival and Survivor Stories. World War II –1939-1945.

If you love this book, then try:

Luen Yang, Gene. Boxers & Saints. First Second Books, 2013.

Brooks, Martha. Queen of Hearts. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 2011.

Chang Compestine, Ying. Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party. Henry Holt and Co. , 2007.

View testimonies of Holocaust survivors and build custom activities using the USC Shoah Foundation iWitness online archive and website.

Help record information about Holocaust experiences and Nazi persecution by participating in the World Memory Project.

Critics have said

While some liberties have been taken, with the permission of Gruener and his wife, Ruth, also a survivor, the experiences and images come directly from the Grueners' collective memories of the war. An author's note provides further biographical information. A powerful story, well told.
School Library Journal
His remarkable survival story begins with a dramatic, emotional punch and then chronicles such moments as his secretive bar mitzvah in a warehouse basement, the systematic round up of Jews, and his deportation to the Plaszow concentration camp, the first of 10 camps he would suffer but survive.