The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs (Hardcover)
C.L.A.C. Book Club selection, May 2023, Redbery Books, Cable, WI.— From Children's Literature for Adults Club (CLAC)
A moving biography of the woman who created The Tower of Faces, a powerful exhibit at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
Sydney Taylor Book Award (Gold Medal)
A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
★ “…There are many picture books about the Holocaust, but this one stands out with Gal’s beautiful watercolor pictures and the true account of one woman’s goal that her community never be forgotten. A beautiful tribute….Highly recommended.” — School Library Journal, starred review
★ “A stunning tale . . . . bursting with detail and life. . . . A magnificent and moving tribute to a loving community and an extraordinary woman.” — Booklist, starred review
★ “A powerful tribute….Moving.” — Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
★ “An affirming tribute to a Jewish past that was lost in the Holocaust as well as to one survivor’s work.” — The Horn Book, starred review
“ …A loving testament to light and hope and the vision of a remarkable woman.” — Kirkus Reviews
“…the book’s message is consistently optimistic... Stiefel paints a truthful portrait appropriate for those just beginning to learn about the Holocaust….Gal’s artwork…is dramatic and accessible…a book that ensures [Eliach and her town] will not be forgotten.” — Jewish Book Council
There once was a girl named Yaffa. She loved her family, her home, and her beautiful Polish town that brimmed with light and laughter. She also loved helping her Grandma Alte in her photography studio. There, shopkeepers, brides, babies, and bar mitzvah boys posed while Grandma Alte captured their most joyous moments on film. And before the Jewish New Year, they sent their precious photographs to relatives overseas with wishes for good health and happiness.
But one dark day, Nazi soldiers invaded the town. Nearly 3,500 Jewish souls — including family, friends, and neighbors of Yaffa — were erased.
This is the stunning true story of how Yaffa made it her life’s mission to recover thousands of her town’s photographs from around the world. Using these photos, she built her amazing TOWER OF FACES, a permanent exhibit in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, to restore the soaring spirit of Eishyshok.
About the Author
After completing her BFA at Art Center College of Design, Susan Gal began her illustration career as a poster and calendar artist. The call of animation beckoned her to Florida where she became an "actor with a pencil" for Disney Animation. But the lure of the silver screen was not to last. Returning to her native California, Susan continues to create fun and whimsical illustrations while attempting to live a caffeine and nuclear-free life in Berkeley. Her book Welcoming Elijah, by Lesléa Newman, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award.
Chana Stiefel is the award-winning author of more than 30 humorous and heartfelt books for children. Her nonfiction books include THE TOWER OF LIFE, the true story of Holocaust survivor and historian Yaffa Eliach, who created the Tower of Faces at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (a Junior Libary Guild Gold Medal Selection, Scholastic); LET LIBERTY RISE: How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save the Statue of Liberty (a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, Scholastic, 2021); and ANIMAL ZOMBIES & OTHER REAL-LIFE MONSTERS (a Top 10 YALSA Quick Pick, NatGeoKids). Chana’s funny fictional picture books include MENDEL’S HANUKKAH MESS UP (Kalaniot), MY NAME IS WAKAWAKALOCH (HMH), and DADDY DEPOT (Feiwel & Friends). She loves to visit schools and libraries to share her passion for reading and writing with children.
Sydney Taylor Book Award (Gold Medal)
A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
Russell Freedman Award for Nonfiction for a Better World
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2022
A Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books of 2022: Best Informational Books for Younger Readers
A 2022 New York Public Library’s Best New Books for Kids
CA Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Award – Honor/Silver Medal
★ “…(When) President Jimmy Carter reached out to Yaffa (Eliach) and asked her to help with a memorial being built for the victims of the Holocaust… she decided to build (it) not on bricks, but on photographs that were saved from Eishyshok. Traveling around the world, she found 6,000 photographs to display on what would later be called the Tower of Life. Not a memorial of the dead, but of the life that came from her beloved hometown. There are many picture books about the Holocaust, but this one stands out with Gal’s beautiful watercolor pictures and the true account of one woman’s goal that her community never be forgotten. A beautiful tribute…Highly recommended.” — School Library Journal, starred review
★ “It’s a stunning tale, spanning decades and continents, and a tender introduction to a terrible time in human history. The watercolor illustrations, bursting with detail and life, utilize warm, bright colors in times of peace and deep reds and blacks in wartime. The drawings cleverly incorporate rectangular photograph frames into the village scenes, beautifully demonstrating the power of snapshots to memorialize beloved people and places. A magnificent and moving tribute to a loving community and an extraordinary woman.” — Booklist, starred review
★ “The creators center the experiences of historian Yaffa Eliach (1935–2016) in this moving look at the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Tower of Faces. . . . saturated ink, watercolor, and digital collage illustrations show the deeply rooted community, which ‘pulsed with love, laughter, and light’. . . .and a concluding spread pays powerful tribute to the resulting memorial.” — Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
★ “This picture-book biography of Holocaust historian Yaffa Eliach (1935–2016) begins with her happy childhood in the shtetl of Eishyshok. . . .Gal’s illustrations, created with ink, watercolor, and digital collage . . . begin with cheerful blues and yellows on plentiful white space, then turn to angry, arresting reds and blacks when the Nazis appear. Photos . . . are creatively incorporated into broader scenes of memories as those scenes are reconstructed. An affirming tribute to a Jewish past that was lost in the Holocaust as well as to one survivor’s work.” — The Horn Book, starred review
Praise for Let Liberty Rise:
★ "Playful, engaging illustrations feature speech bubbles that quote outraged citizens… The story of Lady Liberty’s precarious beginnings shows how much can be accomplished when people band together. Rich back matter includes a time line, photos, additional information, and a bibliography. This charming history title is a true inspiration for the present. An informative must-have for all libraries." — School Library Journal, starred review
"Sparkling language movingly describes how everyday folks effect powerful change. Readers will relish knowing that kids played a pivotal role in the campaign; many actual quotes from children are included. Lively, colorful illustrations capturing the period depict diverse characters and wonderful perspectives... The backmatter includes fascinating informative material... All rise to this evocative, empowering offering." — Kirkus Reviews
"Groenink’s cartoon-style illustrations jauntily animate Stiefel’s account of how children helped ensure the Statue of Liberty would stand tall in New York Harbor… A timeline, bibliography, and further reading list, as well as additional statue facts and archival photos, conclude this true tale of cooperation among all ages." — Publishers Weekly