Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued Book Poster Image
Inspiring true story of lifesaving hero and WWII refugees.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

History of Europe during WWII and the Holocaust.

Positive Messages

One person can make an enormous difference in the lives of others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nicky and his community take action when vulnerable children need help.

Violence & Scariness

War, death, and family separation are central to the story but the topics are handled with care.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued, by Caldecott Honoree Peter Sís, uses gentle but matter-of-fact language and engaging illustrations to show the triumph of humanity during one of history's darkest times. The story of Nicky quietly saving the lives of hundreds of children is a glimmer of hope during the WWII years when desperate families sent children to safety in England. The warm images bring focus to the sadness that enveloped those years, and show how Vera and other children persevered through tragedy. The short biography of Nicolas Winton at the end of the book gives more historical insight and perspective.

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What's the story?

In NICKY & VERA: A QUIET HERO OF THE HOLOCAUST AND THE CHILDREN HE RESCUED, young Nicky changes his plans for a ski vacation during World War II and instead meets a friend in Prague, where he finds himself surrounded by Czech people desperate to get to safety. He finds families in England to take in hundreds of refugee children, organizing their travel, bribing officials, and securing their safety while their parents had to remain. Years later, Nicky's wife discovers the paperwork he put together to make these lifesaving missions -- including the one that saved young Vera -- happen. Throughout his own life, he'd never said anything about the work he did to change hundreds of lives.

Is it any good?

The uplifting story of a humble man saving refugee children is told beautifully here, with nuance and detail in both the immersive illustrations and the powerful words. Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued takes the complex, heartrending idea of sending a child to a new country by herself and makes it both easy to understand and impossible to forget. The horrors of the Holocaust are told with young readers in mind: The language perfectly reflects both the seriousness of the topic and the ability of young readers to absorb what's happening. The Nicolas Winton biography at the end of the book gives more detail, including how his great works were discovered and appreciated by many so late in his life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like to make the decision to send a child away to safety, like the families did in Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued. When parents send their kids to other countries, what are they hoping for?

  • What would it be like to arrive in a new country without your family?

  • How can we help people who are in these situations today? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of the Holocaust and World War II

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