Prisoner B-3087, by Alan Gratz, is based on the true story of Yanek Gruener, a Holocaust survivor. Starting in the Jewish ghetto in Kraków, Poland, the novel recounts his experiences in ten concentration camps over the course of World War II. The book is an appropriate reading level for middle grade and middle school students, but the content itself is difficult. Gratz doesn't flinch from communicating the horrors of the Holocaust. The murderous cruelty of the Nazis takes centre stage, and deaths by violence, starvation, hard labour, and exposure are frequently described in detail.
While other Holocaust books I have reviewed recount escape from Nazis and standing up against evil, Prisoner B-3087 is a different type of story, a harrowing tale of survival in the face of monstrous persecution. The book shows the ugliness of the world, but it is necessary. As fewer Holocaust survivors remain with us with each passing year, it is vital we remember these events. Teaching younger generations the ultimate consequences of dehumanizing others is an essential lesson in a world that has become increasingly divided. While some students might not be ready for the violent nature of this book, it is a good option for many and worth including in classroom libraries and literature circles.