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32pp, color

8.75in x 11in
Juvenile Nonfiction: Social Activism

5 -11
September 2021







Age Range:



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“This book is a must-read for people of all ages and beautifully shows the humanitarian side of a terrific lady, Henrietta Szold. We all can learn from her goodness, kindness and charity in this warm, wonderful story.”
— Jo Reingold, VP, Greater Southwest Region of Hadassah

“Szold’s plea for celebration of our common heritage while tolerating, indeed appreciating, the differences among us concerning religious practice is captivating. I recall her words even to this day when a colleague's position betrays a certain lack of understanding.”

— Ruth Bader Ginsburg

From a letter to Rachel Milroy Lahasky, the niece of a friend, Dr. Joe Goldblatt, upon her bat mitzvah: “I am enclosing a souvenir for you about two people I admire, Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah, and Anne Frank.” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg

"What has resulted is a smart picture book for children that teaches history, hard work and not giving up to despair while living through dark times. It is a story for our time. The beauty of the book is that it is the antithesis of a fairy tale or a sugary sweet Disney story that gives children cerebral cavities and distorts their thinking with illusions. A Queen to the Rescue is honest, yet manages to broach difficult subjects in a sensitive, engaging manner helping to teach empathy and spark intelligent conversations.

Yevgenia Nayberg, who illustrated the book, deserves special praise for her beautiful drawings that have turned this work into objet d’art for little hands."

— Irena Karshenbaum, Jewish Post & News

A Queen to the Rescue:

The Story of Henrietta Szold, Founder of Hadassah

By Nancy Churnin

Illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg

2022 Notable Social Studies Trade Book

Sydney Taylor Notable Book

Best Children's Books of the Year — Bank Street

Henrietta Szold provides a model for social justice, how to work for it, no matter the obstacles. Her determination and spirit remain an inspiration to women all over the world.

"Henrietta Szold dedicated her entire life to aiding the most vulnerable. As a young child she saw her mother and rabbi father helping escaped slaves in Civil War–era Baltimore. She felt a connection to the Purim holiday and a kinship with Queen Esther, who bravely saved the Jews from the evil Haman. Although women had few opportunities to be heard, Henrietta was determined to emulate Esther and make a difference in the world. She saw Jewish immigrants facing dire poverty and discrimination and took the first of many giant leaps. She opened a night school for immigrants to learn English, and she became the first editor of the Jewish Publication Society. She founded Hadassah—using Queen Esther’s Hebrew name—a women’s organization dedicated to raising funds to address hunger and disease among people of every faith in British-controlled Palestine, and established her own residence there. When Hitler came to power she worked tirelessly to rescue as many Jewish children as possible and, with the support of Hadassah, saved thousands. Churnin presents Szold’s accomplishments with careful attention to historical accuracy. The explanation of Hitler’s extreme actions to destroy all Jews is informative, cogent, and accessible to young readers. The author’s tone is admiring, stressing Szold’s determination, courage, and endless compassion and reiterating her connection to the lessons of Purim. Nayberg employs light and shadow with elongated figures to illustrate the events and express the entire range of emotions felt by Szold, the people with whom she worked, and those whose lives she affected. A powerful introduction to a little known, very brave woman. (author’s notes, timeline, bibliography, photo) (Picture book/biography. 8-13)"

— Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

“In this accessible, comprehensive picture book profile, Churnin introduces white Jewish activist Henrietta Szold (1860–1945), born in Baltimore and later Palestine-based, who, inspired by Queen Esther and the Purim story, devoted her life to assisting others. From founding night schools for adult immigrant language learners to editing for the Jewish Publication Society, both in the U.S., and providing interfaith health care, food, and education for individuals in Palestine, Szold took action when she saw those in need. Through the women’s social justice charity she founded—which she named Hadassah, after Queen Esther’s name in Hebrew—she even “saved 11,000 children” from Holocaust displacement in a program called Youth Aliyah. Elegant, assured prose (‘The air was thick with tears for lost loved ones’), accentuated by facts and data, will keep readers absorbed alongside Nayberg’s engrossingly abstract, fluid illustrations, tinted in rich hues of blue-green and red. A moving biography of a lesser-known heroine. Back matter includes an author’s note, more information on Purim, a timeline, and a bibliography. Ages 8–13. (Oct.)”

— Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

"This biography of the founder of the Jewish women’s charity Hadassah effectively introduces a lesser-known, influential woman to a wider audience. The text goes through Henrietta Szold’s life, from her childhood in Baltimore, to becoming a teacher who started the first ESL school for a wave of Jewish immigrants, to being the first editor of the Jewish publication society. She founded Hadassah in what was then Palestine, creating a charity that provided healthcare, food, and clothing to those in need, regardless of race or religion. Finally, she was instrumental in saving 1,100 children during World War II and bringing them to Palestine. Using concise but informative text, Churnin does an excellent job of introducing this dynamic woman in a picture book format. The accessible text includes extensive information in minimal space. Nayberg’s modernist, expressionistic illustrations effectively capture Henrietta’s powerful persona, along with the darkness of the times in which she lived. Muted tones of greys, blues, and browns imbue the pages on the civil war and the Holocaust with a sense of danger. Eye-catching pops of yellow and red combine with a style reminiscent of Chagall to give the illustrations a powerful emotional effect. An extensive author’s note expands on the text to give a more complete biography of Szold, along with other useful information.

VERDICT A worthwhile addition for any library looking to expand picture book content on powerful women, this will be especially appreciated in libraries serving Jewish populations."

— Starred Review, School Library Journal

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