Congratulations to author Jennifer Elvgren, and illustrator Fabio Santomauro, Kar-Ben Publishing, and Lerner Publishing Group on the warm review by Elizabeth Wein in the April 6 edition of the New York Times Book Review:
Rounding out this literary threesome of resistance and escape is “The Whispering Town,” a picture book written by Jennifer Elvgren and illustrated by Fabio Santomauro. The setting is a Danish fishing village, but one of the book’s charms is how little context you need to understand it: There’s a war, and Anett’s family is hiding refugees and sneaking them to safety by boat to neutral Sweden. Anett’s job is to bring food to the Jewish mother and child hidden in her basement, where she finds her way down the dark stairs by following the sound of their whispers. When Anett’s father worries that the refugees might get lost in the dark when they flee to the harbor, Anett suggests the whole village whisper directions to them as they go.
The publisher of “The Whispering Town” recommends the book for children ages 7 to 11, but it feels appropriate for reading to very young children as an introduction to the subject of the Holocaust. It’s definitely the least harrowing of the three books. The threat to the escaping mother and child is only hinted at in the bales of barbed wire that accompany the Nazi soldiers whenever they appear, in the worrying absence of the father in the Jewish family group, and in the villagers’ ominous, repeated warning: “Stay safe.” Santomauro’s thoughtful illustrations, with their restrained colors, subtly remind the reader of the village’s determined solidarity.