I have read a lot of books by Toronto resident Kathy Kacer and for whatever reason, I have never read one of her first books, The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser ($7.95, Second Story Press), which is based on the true story of how her mother avoided being captured by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Kacer writes both fiction and non-fiction titles, with this one being inspired by the true story of her mother’s escape.

“Gabi is living happily in a farm community, with loving parents and many school friends,” reads the book’s synopsis. “But suddenly her world is turned upside down. The Nazis have invaded her country, Czechoslovakia. She and other Jewish children are harassed, former friends desert her and she is no longer permitted to attend school. When a rumour begins to circulate that Jewish girls are being taken away from their families to some unknown destination, what is Gabi to do? She could run away or find a hiding place – but where.”

The books begins in the present, when Gabi, now a grandmother, tells her story of her escape to her two grandchildren. We get transported back to the past, where we learn what Gabi’s life is like before everything changes including her relationship with her best friend, a non-Jewish girl who is just like her sister.

The book is short – just more than 100 pages – and an easy read. While still an incredibly sad and awful, The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser doesn’t seem as horrific as other accounts I have read likely because the story is geared to children in grades four to eight. You learn how the lives of these children, the same age as the kids reading this book, change in such a horrible and drastic way and how they are treated by people who used to be friends, neighbours and employees.

You learn about love, courage, bravery and doing the right thing. And like all Holocaust books, you learn something new about this terrible time of in our history. The book includes pictures of Kacer’s mom and her family as well as a timeline from September 1938 to May 1945, when the Allies liberate Czechoslovakia.

The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser is a good read for kids just learning about the Holocaust.

Read my Q&A with Kathy Kacer here. You can also read my reviews of Kacer’s other books by typing in Kathy Kacer in the search.

A copy of this book was provided by Second Story Press for an honest review. The opinions are my own. November is Holocaust Education Month.