(Review) Liesl's Ocean Rescue by Barbara Krasner, illustrations by Avi Katz

Publisher: Gihon River Press, Inc. 2014.
Genre: Children's Books, Children of WWII, Holocaust.
Format: paperback.
Age: 6-8. Although in my opinion 3rd grade through 6th grade.
Pages: 32.
ISBN: 978-0-9890841-6-1
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.
Source: Free copy from IRead Book Tours and Gihon River Press, Inc., in exchange for a review.

Tour information: IRead Book Tours.

Link at Amazon,
and at Barnes and Noble. 

Lisel’s Ocean Rescue by noted children’s author Barbara Krasner, recounts the story of Liesl Joseph, a 10-year-old girl aboard the ill-fated MS St. Louis. On May 13, 1939, together with her parents and 900 other Jewish refugees, they left Germany on the MS. St Louis, attempting to seek temporary asylum in Cuba.

My Thoughts:
Holocaust stories are dear to my heart. I first heard the story of the Holocaust from the eyewitness accounts of my father (a soldier in Europe during WWII). Over the past eight years of writing book reviews, I've had the opportunity to read and review a long list of Holocaust stories. 
I've read a variety of examples of Holocaust books:

  • I've read accounts written by adult children of Holocaust survivors. 
  • I've read unusual stories of Jewish women who married Nazis. 
  • I've read stories of men and women who helped Jewish children escape.   
  • I've read stories of people, inhumane people, who turned Jews in to the Nazis. 
  • I read a story of a group of Jewish people who banded together in a forest to defend themselves and hopefully survive.
  • I've read stories of Jewish musicians who continued to play in an orchestra while imprisoned. 

The most difficult to read of the Holocaust stories always concerns the children. 
John F. Kennedy expressed, "Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future." 

I'd heard of the story of a group of Jewish people who left Germany by ship in hopes of beginning a new life in another country away from Nazi Germany. Until now, I'd not read a book about a child who lived through this terror. It is difficult for me to understand why their plight lasted so long? I don't understand why America did not provide refuge? Liesl's Ocean Rescue is written for children and it does not go in to political details and reasons. The focus is on Liesl's story. What she experienced during the time of leaving Germany, on board the ship, and afterwards. From the beginning pages, Krasner shows the fear and anxiety of living in Germany during the Kristallnact. Jews who were able to leave the country left. It was a difficult choice to leave behind homes and businesses, family and friends. However, survival was of magnitude importance. 
I love both the story and the illustrations. I recommend the book as both a historical lesson and a book to challenge the mind of a child. I believe an adult will need to be available to further discuss its content. 
The illustration that captured my attention and emotion the most, is when the people are waiting to disembark the ship, and Cuban soldiers will not let them. The illustration speaks volumes.  

Author and Illustrator Information:
Barbara Krasner is a historian and professor of creative writing. She publishes the popular blog, The Whole Megillah: The Writer’s Resource for Jewish-Themed Story. She runs workshops and conferences for Jewish writers at the Highlights Foundation and in conjunction with the Association of Jewish Libraries. Barbara has a B.A. in German from Douglass College, an M.B.A. in Marketing from the Rutgers Business School and an M.F.A. in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a candidate for the M.A. in Applied Historical Studies at William Paterson University.

Connect with Barbara:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Blog

Illustrator Avi Katz was born in Philadelphia where he studied in the Schechter and Akiba schools as well as the Fleischer Art Memorial. After three years at U.C. Berkeley he moved to Israel at age 20, where he graduated in Fine Arts from the Bezalel Art Academy. He was the staff artist of the Jerusalem Report Magazine from its first issue in 1990 until 2012, and is active in the international Cartooning for Peace program. He has illustrated over 160 books in Israel and the U.S. including the National Jewish Book Award winning JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible. His books have also won the IBBY Hans Christian Andersen Honors four times and Israel’s Ze’ev Prize six times. His art has been exhibited in Israel, America and Europe.

Connect with Avi:  Website


  1. Annette, I enjoyed your review. I am also on the iRead tour for this book. What a generous giveaway!

  2. Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.


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