Sunday, January 24, 2010


By D. Dina Friedman
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN-13: 978-1-4169-0258-4

FROM THE FLAP: Halina Rudowski is on the run. When the Polish ghetto where she lives is evacuated, she narrowly escapes, but her mother is not as lucky. Along with her friend Batya, Halina makes her way to a secret encampment in the woods where the Jews survive by living underground. As the group struggles for food, handles infighting, and attempts to protect themselves from the advancing Germans, Halina must face the reality of life without her mother.

Based on historical events, this gripping tale sheds light on a little-known aspect of the Holocaust: the underground forest encampments that saved several thousand Jews from the Nazis. In telling the story of one girl’s survival, Escaping into the Night marks the arrival of a remarkable new voice in fiction.

KATE’S TAKE: If you teach the Holocaust, don’t miss this book.

CHARACTER CONNECTION: (Verbal/Linguistic and Intrapersonal) Heroic characters fill this book from start to finish. Ask students to write a five paragraph essay about the character they most resemble and to support it with details from the text.

MUSIC MATTERS:(Musical)Music kept Halina’s hope alive. In groups, ask students to research Jewish music. Give them a choice or writing a report about a Jewish magician or singing or playing a piece of music. This website is a great place to start researching:

STONE SORT: (Naturalist) Halina has a lucky rock, and she collects and sorts rocks throughout the book. If possible, take a walk outside and gather rocks. If not, bring in rocks for the class to sort. Ask students to sort them into three categories: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. If there’s time, have them name each rock using the charts from this site as a guide:

SWAMP CROSS: (Kinesthetic/Interpersonal) Halina and her friends have to cross through the swamp to escape the German soldiers. Using a rope, they each link themselves to another person in their party to make sure they don’t sink into the mud. Break the class into groups of five students and give each group three hula hoops and a long piece of rope. Tell them they need to get from one point to another, cross the swamp, by stepping into the hula hoops. They must always hold onto the rope as they pick up the hula hoops and pass them forward. Hula hoops may not be dragged on the floor, they may only be lifted. If someone steps onto the floor outside of the hula hoop, the group must go back to the start line. Special thanks to Matt Ettinger for this activity.


Ask students to build ziemlanka, forest shelter, dioramas. Make sure to camouflage the outside of the box just as the Jewish forest encampments camouflaged their ziemlankas.


-Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
-Run, Boy, Run by Uri Orlev
-Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust by Allan Zullo
-The Seamstress by Sara Tuvel Bernstein
-The World Centre for Jewish Music in Palestine, 1936-1940: Jewish Musical Life on the Eve of World War II by Philip V. Bohlman

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