Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer was published in 2010 and is a well researched story. This story begins with high school students in Kansas who pick a history research project. Liz finds a short note about a woman named Irena Sendler who saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. She placed their names along with their new identities in glass jars and buried these jars under an apple tree, so their families could find them after the war.
Two other students join her on this project and they create a play based on what they find. The author had a big job in writing this book as he tells the story of these girls and the story of Irena Sendler. I'll admit that the parts about the girls are a bit clunky, but the story is so good, that I can look past it. The parts about Irena Sendler flow well. Her story is amazing.
With the help of many people she found homes for 2,500 children and provided long term finances for the families who helped. She risked and nearly lost her life by doing what she did. She was Catholic and had been raised that there are two types of people in the world: good people and bad people. Her father taught her that if she saw someone drowning, the drowning person must be rescued.
I liked the parts about the students because it shows how important project based learning is - the difference it can make in so many lives. This project came alive and did much to change the world for the better. I think this book is of value to teachers and to everyone who enjoys a good story that challenges us to be our best selves.
Quotes I liked:
"Anything you do to repair the world is heroic" (29).
"Irena called it Warsaw's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - over crowding, poor sanitation, rodents, and malnutrition" (96). In speaking of the Warsaw Ghetto.
"The Hebrew Talmud and Kabbalah speak of 36 righteous people for whose sake God keeps the world alive . . . In our blessed ignorance, we are encouraged to act as if we are one of them" (141).
"Irena felt the burden of her deadly knowledge - the devil's bargain she had made with Schmuel - save a few children, but don't alarm their parents. Doing wrong to do right" (172).
"She knew that if she survived the war, she would suffer for those she could not save, and this regret would shroud the rest of her life" (177).
"My dear Pani Sendler, I was born without fear, and without fear one cannot truly be said to be courageous. My mother, God rest her soul, said I had a congenital absence of good sense" (199).
"It is the great sorrow of our time that one cannot be humane without risking one's life" (199).
"Maybe everybody's world falls apart in one way or another, some more spectacularly than others" (325).
"I wanted to thank you for starting to fix the world at the very moment it was breaking" (327).
"Only the dead have done enough" (343).
I purchased my copy of this book at a library sale for 50 cents, but it is pretty hammered, so I will buy a new one, as I will read this one again.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.
Teresa sent this book for the NICU.
Angie sent these books for the NICU.
As always, I appreciate every single donation we get to our NICU book project. Thank you, Angie and Teresa.
Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.