Romero, R.M. “The Dollmaker of Krakow”, Delacorte, 2017.
The Power of Love
We never want to forget that once during the darkest period in the history of the world there was something called the Holocaust. It has always been difficult to find ways to teach the Holocaust to children because of the atrocities that occurred along side of the loss of faith by many. R.M. Romero in “The Dollmaker of Krakow” found a way to do so and while this is a very sad book, it does the job through the language of magic. We have two parallel stories going on simultaneously. Karolina comes to live in Krakow before World War II began. In the Land of dolls, there is also a war in which rats took over the land and burned and destroyed everything. In Krakow, Karolina lives with the Dollmaker, a half- German Pole who is a humanist. They become friendly with a Jewish family and watch in horror as Germans (including their neighbors) turn against Jews. We know what the result of that was and while the book does not directly address what happened to the Jews there, Romero writes of them in the past tense. The Dollmaker helps to save Jews using his magic, even though he knows he will ultimately shares their fate with the other Jews in the concentration camp.
Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. She is taken from the Land of the Dolls to Kraków, Poland and the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past. He must keep what he knows inside. Karolina’s courageousness and compassion make him smile and to eventually befriend a Jewish violin-playing father and his daughter. (once he gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.) I fear I may have confused some of you in that last paragraph but hold on and you will understand where I am going.
When Nazi soldiers take Poland, Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks. The story is both sweet and sad and has a strong message about
love, war, and loss. Yet, I had a bit of trouble understanding the magical aspects in the human world. This is probably because I am an adult reading a book made for a younger group of readers. This is quite a serious subject here that is handled with great sensitivity. It is about a very dark and sad subject and it is important that the youth of today know about the Holocaust to insure that it will never happen again.