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Children's Nonfiction Holocaust

The Magician of Auschwitz

by (author) Kathy Kacer

illustrated by Gillian Newland

Second Story Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2014
Holocaust, Europe, Prejudice & Racism
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2014
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2014
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 6
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


Magic can be found in the darkest of places... It is the time of the Second World War, and Werner is a boy alone in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Separated from his family, he doesn’t have a friend in the world. He shares his bunk with a quiet man named Herr Levin, who seems too gentle for this terrible place.

One night Werner is woken by the sound of prison guards yelling. But it’s not Werner they want, it’s Herr Levin. “Do your magic!” they order him. Magic? In Auschwitz? Werner never expected to meet a magician in such a sad and frightening place. Nor did he expect that his life could be changed, not just by Herr Levin’s gift of magic, but by his gifts of hope and friendship. Includes a special section, with photographs, about the real-life Werner and the Great Nivelli.

About the authors


Kathy Kacer est une auteure primée qui a écrit de nombreux livres sur l'holocauste pour les jeunes lecteurs, dont The Magician of Auschwitz, L'histoire d'Edith, Le journal de Sara et Les espions de la nuit. Elle s'estime honorée de contribuer à faire connaître l'histoire familiale de Jenny Kay Dupuis. Kathy vit avec sa famille à Toronto.


Kathy Kacer has won many awards for her writing, including the American Jewish Library Association Award. In 1999, she wrote the first book in Second Story's Holocaust Remembrance Series, The Secret of Gabi's Dresser. Since then, she's penned four other books in the series. Kacer now writes about the Holocaust for young readers and travels the country speaking about it. Kacer lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her family.

Kathy Kacer's profile page


Gillian Newland est une artiste qui travaille principalement à l'aquarelle, à l'encre et au crayon. Elle trouve son inspiration en dessinant à l'extérieur de son studio. On la voit parfois dans un café, en train de faire des croquis des autres clients. Elle a illustré The Magician of Auschwitz et de nombreux autres livres. Gillian vit à Toronto.


Gillian Newland is an artist who lives and works in Toronto. In addition to illustrating a number of picture books, her artwork can be seen on several young adult novels and in magazines. She has won the Ruth Schwartz Award and been nominated for the Lane Anderson Award.


Gillian Newland's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Kacer (the Holocaust Remembrance series) presents a true tale about children and the Holocaust... Like Kacer’s previous books, this story is infused with hope and a message about human capacity for good in the face of evil."

Publisher's Weekly

"A moving Holocaust story for younger readers about a young boy sent to Auschwitz and befriended by a magician… a poignant, inspiring story of friendship, hope and survival."

Kirkus Reviews

"The Magician of Auschwitz is an important book of accepting hope wherever possible in the most hopeless of situations and from the most surprising of sources."

CanLit for Little Canadians blog

"...wonderfully expressive."

Jewish Book World

"In her first picture book, Kathy Kacer has written a gripping account of survival and hope during one of the darkest times in history. One cannot help but be moved by Levin's gift of magic and friendship that transforms the days of a lonely boy who, in turn, retains a lifelong love of magic."

Canadian Children's Book News

"There is a need to continue to shine a spotlight on the past. The challenge for any writer telling children about this horrific time is balance... truth without all the terrifying details. Kathy Kacer rises to this challenge and knows how important it is that children learn about this tragic time in history. She manages the daunting task to not glorify, sensationalize or sugarcoat all the facts."

CM Magazine

"It’s hard to know how and when to introduce the story of the Holocaust to young children… [The Magician of Auschwitz] is a good introductory piece with a compelling true story. This is a fine book, well designed and written for such a young age group."

The San Francisco Book Review

"Author of over a dozen books chronicling a variety of Holocaust stories, Kacer delivers this piece of history in picture book format. The result is simple, beautifully moving and gently informative... Gillian Newland evocatively illustrates the book in charcoal and sepia tones."

Readerly, National Reading Campaign

"...a needed addition to anyone's library and anyone, no matter how old or how young, can take something to heart from this wonderful book."

Kutztown University Book Review

"The Magician of Auschwitz tells of friendship in the face of terrible conditions. It is a wonderful springboard for discussion about the Second World War and the atrocities committed during the Holocaust, and should be considered an essential purchase for every public and school library."

Quill & Quire

"The dark brooding illustrations aptly evoke the darkness and inhumanity of the setting.... This is an excellent tale to teach children about the horrors of the Holocaust."

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