The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs
No reviews yet.Add your rating
No reviews yet.Add your rating
Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Tower of Life is a moving and thoughtfully-illustrated picture book biography of Dr. Yaffa Eliach, a Jewish historian and scholar who made it her mission to recover thousands of lost photographs of her Polish town after surviving the Holocaust. The photos became a permanent installation at the U.S. Holocaust Memoiral Museum in Washington D.C., called "The Tower of Faces," symbolizing hope and light through the darkest time in Jewish history. A helpful timeline of Yaffa's life and legacy, along with a bibliography of sources and a simple definition of the Holocaust, provides additional context and insight. And Susan Gals' illustrations help bring the Yaffa's mission and journey to life. The Tower of Life won the 2023 Sydney Taylor Book Award, presented annually by the Association of Jewish Libraries to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.
There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
In THE TOWER OF LIFE: HOW YAFFA ELIACH REBUILT HER TOWN IN STORIES AND PHOTOGRAPHS, a young girl named Yaffa is ripped away from the peaceful life she knows when invading Nazi soldiers force her family out of their Polish hometown. Years later, Yaffa cherishes the photographs she saved from her childhood and becomes inspired by the idea of recovering other pictures of her town and the people that lived there. This project grows and becomes a permanent installation in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in honor and recognition of her lost hometown. Yaffa titled it "The Tower of Faces."
Is It Any Good?
This compelling story of a young girl's determination after an unimaginable tragedy is as carefully handled as it is honest. The Tower of Life offers a clear, emotional portrait of Yaffa's experience, with a focus on how she collects the photographs from all around the world and what it means to her to do so. Susan Gal's ink, watercolor, and digital collage illustrations are flush with movement, effectively reflecting the earthy peace of the shtetl and the dark rush of suddenly fleeing it. The second-to-last page switches to vertical orientation to better show the scope of the final photo installation, which makes for an emotional ending. Real photos of Yaffa and her family are featured as well. This book is a good choice for kids who already know some of the basics of the Holocaust and are ready to go a step deeper.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the act of preserving people's history in The Tower of Life. How do feel about preserving your family's history? Do you have sentimental items in your home that you think are important to save? What do they mean to you?
How can saving photos, like Yaffa did, help keep our memories alive?
How do the pictures of the Nazi invasion differ from the pictures of Yaffa's Polish town? What do you think that visual change is meant to represent?
- Author: Chana Stiefel
- Illustrator: Susan Gal
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Activism, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Empathy, Perseverance
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: October 4, 2022
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Hardback, Kindle
- Awards: ALA Best and Notable Books, Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: February 23, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued
Inspiring true story of lifesaving hero and WWII refugees.
Number the Stars
Stirring tale of girl who smuggles Jews to safety in WWII.
Signs of Survival: A Memoir of the Holocaust
Courageous sisters persevere in powerful Holocaust memoir.
For kids who love stories about the Holocaust and World War II
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate