Reviews - Guardian Angel House
Here's what people have been saying about "Guardian Angel House":
During November 2009, some of the Grade 7 students at Holy Trinity high School, including myself, got an opportunity to go to the library and were able to go “backstage” and get to know a local author, Kathy Clark, who is known for her most recent book called Guardian Angel House.
This heartwarming true story takes place at the convent of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Budapest, Hungary, in 1944-45. The book is from the perspective of two sisters, Vera and Susan, Vera being Kathy’s mother and Susan being Kathy’s aunt. It is also about how a group of caring nuns took in girls of all ages who were at risk of being taken by the Nazis.
The nuns knew that their lives were at risk protecting girls, and knew that if they were caught, they would all be killed, but they were willing to do whatever it took to do the right thing and save the innocent little girls.
For any reader who is intrigued by historical non-fiction books, I would recommend Guardian Angel House. It is a mix of truth, action, trust and love. You will not be sorry for spending your time reading this book, but will be sorry for never giving it a try. I would 100-per-cent recommend reading this book because I used to not like reading books at all, but just listening to the presentation made me wan to forget about my past and start reading books, and I know that it will become a bestseller. Read Guardian Angel House today.
The Ottawa Citizen, Sat. Jan. 23, 2010
This book is EXCEPTIONAL. I had a difficult time putting it down once I opened it up! Kathy Clark has done another amazing job with this book. It is an extremely easy read as it is geared for the younger generation but it also is so captivating that it appeals to all ages. I never was one interested in history however, after reading this book about the war, the Nazis, the hardships, the relationships between Jewish and Catholic people, and how there was good and honest people helping each other during all the evil that was going on, I am keenly interested in learning more about that period in time. The fact that this book is based on actual events makes it even more captivating to read. I went to the book launch and met the 2 women who are the main characters in the book. It was inspiring to hear them speak and to know that they went through horrific events and survived. It really gives you something to think about with respect to your own troubles and "hardships". Well done Kathy Clark!
Posted on Second Story website
Overall the book is well told and fast paced. Young readers, especially girls, will admire the characters and find the book suspenseful and easy to understand, yet also very educational.
Through the makeshift seder with the nuns, Clark is able to explain the similarities between Catholicism and Judaism. And through Lena, the Gypsy girl who takes refuge in the convent, the reader will learn that Jews weren’t the only people persecuted by the Nazis.
Guardian Angel House is a welcome addition to this series of award-winning books that includes Kathy Kacer’s Hiding Edith, Karen Levine’s Hana’s Suitcase and several other renowned books. Read Full Article...
Canadian Jewish News
In November of 2007 I had the pleasure of hosting Kathy at the Ottawa Public Library’s Hazeldean branch as part of the Library’s participation is Holocaust Education Week. Kathy presented her then, work in progress, Guardian Angel House, a novel for young adults about a group of righteous nuns who protected Jewish children during the Second World War.
Kathy handled the sensitive subject of her book with care and professionalism, appealing simultaneously to the adults and youth in our mixed age audience. Her presentation included extraordinary visuals such as photographs, maps and letters in the form of a slide presentation that served to provide historical and cultural context for the audience. Indeed, Kathy’s presentation was as much a history lesson as it was a very personal and moving account of a remarkable Holocaust survival story.
In addition to her evening at Hazeldean, Kathy presented to several school groups at other branches within the Ottawa Public Library and was very well received by students, teachers and Librarians. Kathy is an experienced and engaging speaker.
Coordinator, Hazeldean Branch, Ottawa Public Library
Author Kathy Clark based the book on the experiences of her mother and aunt who were sheltered by the Sisters of Charity and she includes many archival photos. Although there is no index, the author includes an introduction that briefly explains the history of World War II, Hungary and an afterword that follows up on the history of the convent after the war.
Guardian Angel House offers a glimpse of some of the many small but heroic acts of the Holocaust – and an interesting portrait of an institution that reached out across any religious barriers to save the lives of many children.
Canadian Children's Book News
"Don't worry, Mama, I will always take care of Vera." These were Susan's last words to her mother as they left. She repeated the words now, over and over in her mind, hoping to boost her courage.
On this early Sunday morning, three months after her father had been taken away, Susan clutched Aunt Isi's hand as if the pressure of her clasp could still the fluttering in the pit of her stomach. They were on their way to the convent on Gellert Mountain—two Jewish girls going to live with a group of nuns and already pretending they were part of the scattering of Catholics heading off to Sunday Mass.
Trying to find a book for tween and teen girls can be a tricky endeavor. Trying to find a book that will teach them something about the Catholic faith and getting them to read it seems like an insurmountable task. Kathy Clark’s Guardian Angel House, is one of those rare gems that makes a parent’s life much easier in our quest to expose our children to the rich cultural heritage of Catholicism.
Full of mystery and intrigue, Guardian Angel House is a well-written story based on the true story of Clark’s mother Vera and her aunt Susan, two young Jewish girls who were hidden in a Roman Catholic convent during the Second World War. “Guardian Angel House” was the nickname given to the convent operated by the Sisters of Charity in Budapest, Hungary. The nuns sheltered over 120 Jewish children during the German invasion of Hungary.
Kathy Clark was born in Budapest, and moved to Canada as a young girl. Her first book for children “A Whisper in My Heart” is based on her experience of coming to Canada as a child immigrant. As founder of Chilawee Trails Camp for girls in the Ottawa Valley, which she directed for eight years, Clark knows her target audience, girls from 10 to 16 years of age well. Clark was raised Jewish and converted to the Catholic faith as an adult. Her conversion story “Led by Love” is contained in the book “Canadian Converts” by Justin Press.
Guardian Angel House delicately weaves together the Catholic and the Jewish faiths with great respect for both. Many subtle teachable moments on the two faiths take place throughout the book. With the discussion of the canonization of Pope Pius XII so hot in the news these days, Guardian Angel House gives girls a courageous example of the countless Catholics who offered persecuted Jews asylum in schools, convents, monasteries and homes during the Second World War. We all need to hear the stories of Catholics and their long history of protecting the Jews since the times of the early Church.
The story begins with Vera and Susan at home with their mother and baby brother after their father has been taken away to a labor camp. Their mother’s best friend, a Catholic woman named Isi convinces their mother Rose to send Susan and Vera to a Catholic orphanage where they would be protected from the Nazi round-ups. At the convent eleven-year-old Susan becomes the guardian not only of five-year-old Vera, but also of their Jewish heritage. As Susan struggles with thinking they are expected to adopt Catholic rituals and prayers, they soon learn this is not the case. The kindness of the nuns help Susan overcome her fears. The children grow through their daily lives at the convent and we are exposed to the girls learning many new things about both religions and life.
Clark details aspects of their daily life in the convent so that the reader will be able to identify with the difficulties and unhappiness the sisters experienced. Children will understand how people lived in Hungary, how they made it through day-to-day during the war, and learn about religious customs of both Jews and Catholics. They will appreciate how brave many people were despite the regime of terror the Nazis imposed, and the sacrifices these individuals made to do the right thing. We see how the religious sisters in the convent risked their lives for these Jewish girls and how the Jewish girls bonded with each other and with the Sisters.
The reader is exposed to the virtues of many great women and men who were true guardian angels and selflessly saved Hungarian Jews from the death camps. We see Sister Agnes die saving the girls one night from the Nazis. The reader is exposed to Raoul Wallenberg, who selflessly saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the death camps.
Guardian Angel House joins the other books in Second Story Press's "Holocaust Remembrance" series—Hana's Suitcase, The Underground Reporters, Hiding Edith and The Righteous Smuggler, in contributing to the important body of books that document the history of children during this dark time. For Catholic girls this book is a must read as we need more than ever to expose out girls to the cultural stories of our heritage that makes one proud to stand up for our faith.
Guardian Angel House (published under the title What if They Find Us? in the U.K.), is based upon the experiences of Kathy Clark’s Hungarian Jewish mother and aunt who were saved from the Nazis by the Sisters of Charity in Budapest. What is unusual about this children’s book is that it is a powerful story published by a mainstream publishing house which shows Catholics in a very good light.
The book is part of Scholastic’s My True Story series but it is actually an imaginative reconstruction of the time in fictional form.
What if They Find Us? opens in December 1943 with Susan and Vera’s father being taken away to a Nazi labour camp. The children and their mother get through the next few weeks with the help of a Catholic friend but it soon becomes apparent that the persecution of the Jews is getting worse in Hungary.
The family’s Catholic friend tries to persuade their mother to allow the nuns of the Guardian Angel House Convent to hide Susan and Vera along with a growing number of other Jewish children and finally she relents. Separated from their parents, the children learn to fend for themselves while coming to terms with the strange Catholic world into which they are thrown.
This is a story of mutual respect and understanding at a time of terrible persecution. As you might expect, there are some terribly sad and moving moments in the book but it is the faith and heroism of the nuns and children that really shines through.
What if They Find Us? would be suitable for 9-13 year olds. It has real narrative drive, interesting new characters are introduced at suitable intervals and we are given some well-judged cliffhangers. I, for one, was gripped. It can be difficult to find good books for our Catholic children. Here’s one I’d heartily recommend.