Author’s account of life in Terezin ghetto wins education award

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A book about the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia during the Second World War has scooped a prestigious prize for educational writers.

A book about the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia during the Second World War has scooped a prestigious prize for educational writers.

The judges of the 2012 ALCS Educational Writers’ Award described Ruth Thomson’s Terezin: A Story of the Holocaust as “one of the finest children’s non-fiction books for many years”.

The award was set up in 2008 to celebrate educational writing that encourages students “to read widely and build up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications”.

The 2012 prize focused on books for 11 to 18-year-olds and the winner beat off three other shortlisted titles – Really Really Big Questions About Faith by Dr Julian Baggini, The Story of Britain by Patrick Dillon, and Into the Unknown: How great explorers found their way by land, sea and air by Stewart Ross.

Ms Thomson’s book tells the harrowing story of the Terezin/Theresienstadt fortified ghetto in occupied Czechoslovakia, where the Nazis imprisoned thousands of Jews during the Second World War. It features first-hand accounts of life in the town, as well as moving works of art by artists who were incarcerated there.

Her interest in Terezin was sparked by visits to the London Jewish Museum of Art. The gallery owns a series of prints by artist Leo Haas, who is featured in the book, and she found herself compelled to learn more about the place that had inspired his work.

The judges of the award, writer Simon Adams, languages teacher Louise Trevelyan and school librarian Jenny Berggren, were unanimous in their praise, describing the book as “unforgettable” and “an exemplary winner which packs a massive emotional punch”.

Ms Thomson, an educational writer who specialises in art and history, was presented with her £2,000 award by culture minister Ed Vaizey at the House of Commons last month. Terezin: A Story of the Holocaust by Ruth Thomson is published by Franklin Watts and costs £9.99.

CAPTION: Unforgettable: Writer Ruth Thomson is presented with her award by culture minister Ed Vaizey for her book Terezin


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