The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...on Schindler's List (Hardcover)

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Virgie's Staff Pick (May 2014): Oskar Schindler courageously saved nearly 1200 Jews from almost certain death in Nazi Germany. This is the true story of one boy, Leon Leyson, who was the youngest survivor on Schindler’s list. He recounts the six year period in which he and his family struggled to survive each and every day under Nazi oppression.

Though there were many horrors endured during the Holocaust, nothing in the book is explicit or too raw for young readers.

I recommend this book as a great biography for children/teens because it carries a message of hope and humanity. This is a story of survival. All because of one man. Oskar Schindler.

— From Virgie's Picks

Chris's October 2013 Staff Pick: This was such a touching story and written so well for children. There are so many things that happened to so many people in WWII that it’s wonderful to read a story that has a happy ending.

Leon was able to describe the things he had to survive, without it being too graphic, but still holding onto all the emotions of the events. This is something that shouldn’t be swept under the rug and if it never happened. This really is a must read for everyone!!

— From Chris's Picks


In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto.

Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson's life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory--a list that became world renowned: Schindler's List.

This, the only memoir published by a former Schindler's List child, perfectly captures the innocence of a small boy who goes through the unthinkable. Most notable is the lack of rancor, the lack of venom, and the abundance of dignity in Mr. Leyson's telling. The Boy on the Wooden Box is a legacy of hope, a memoir unlike anything you've ever read.

Praise For…

* "A posthumous Holocaust memoir from the youngest person on Oskar Schindler’s list.

Completed before his death in January 2013, Leyson’s narrative opens with glowing but not falsely idyllic childhood memories of growing up surrounded by friends and relatives in the Polish village of Narewka and then the less intimate but still, to him, marvelous city of Kraków. The Nazi occupation brought waves of persecution and forced removals to first a ghetto and then a labor camp—but since his father, a machinist, worked at the enamelware factory that Schindler opportunistically bought, 14-year-old “Leib” (who was so short he had to stand on the titular box to work), his mother and two of his four older siblings were eventually brought into the fold. Along with harrowing but not lurid accounts of extreme privation and casual brutality, the author recalls encounters with the quietly kind and heroic Schindler on the way to the war’s end, years spent at a displaced-persons facility in Germany and at last emigration to the United States. Leyson tacks just a quick sketch of his adult life and career onto the end and closes by explaining how he came to break his long silence about his experiences. Family photos (and a picture of the famous list with the author’s name highlighted) add further personal touches to this vivid, dramatic account.

Significant historical acts and events are here put into unique perspective by a participant."

* “Leyson, who died in January at age 83, was No. 289 on Schindler’s list and its youngest member. He was just 13 when Leyson’s father convinced Oskar Schindler to let “Little Leyson” (as Schindler knew him) and other family members find refuge in the Emalia factory; Leyson was so small he had to stand on a box to work the machinery. Leyson and his coauthors give this wrenching memoir some literary styling, but the book is at its most powerful when Leyson relays the events in a straightforward manner, as if in a deposition, from the shock of seeing his once-proud father shamed by anti-Semitism to the deprivation that defined his youth. Schindler remains a kindly but enigmatic figure in Leyson’s retelling, occasionally doting but usually distant. Leyson makes it clear that being “Schindler Jews” offered a thread of hope, but it never shielded them from the chaos and evil that surrounded them. Readers will close the book feeling that they have made a genuinely personal connection to this remarkable man.”

Product Details
ISBN: 9781442497818
ISBN-10: 1442497815
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 27th, 2013
Pages: 231
Language: English