THE TOWER OF LIFE
Title: THE TOWER OF LIFE: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs
Contributors: Chana Stiefel (Author), Susan Gal (Illustrator)
Published by: Scholastic Press
Release Date: October 4, 2022
The true story behind the Tower of Life, a permanent Exhibit at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
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 LIFE, a permanent exhibit in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, to restore the soaring spirit of Eishyshok.
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.
Download a free Curriculum Guide!
Awards & Praise
Winner of the 2023 Sydney Taylor Book Award
A Robert F. Sibert Honor
Winner of the Margaret Wise Brown Prize for Children's Literature
A 2023 ALSC Notable Book
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard
2022 Eureka! Nonfiction Award for Children's Literature Honor/Silver Medal
from the California Reading Association
The Tower of Life has been awarded the inaugural Russell Freedman Nonfiction Award for a Better World from the SCBWI Impact & Legacy Fund, along with Freedom: The Story of the Black Panther Party by Jetta Grace Martin, Joshua Bloom, and Waldo E. Martin. Here's the story in School Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly!
Reviews for the Tower of Life
"This masterfully illustrated biography argues that even the Nazis, though they may have been able to physically erase a shtetl, were powerless to destroy deep human connections to family and home."—Eugene Yelchin, The New York Times Book Review. (read full review)
"An affirming tribute to a Jewish past that was lost in the Holocaust as well as one survivor's work."
—The Horn Book starred review
"A magnificent and moving tribute to a loving community and an extraordinary woman."
—Booklist starred review (read the full review)
"A powerful tribute."—Publisher's Weekly starred review (read the full review)
“There are many picture books about the Holocaust, but this one stands out...”
—School Library Journal, starred review (read the full review)
“A loving testament to light and hope and the vision of a remarkable woman.”
—Kirkus Reviews (read the full review)
“The book restores the dignity of a lost civilization both by illustrating the past and calling attention to Jewish continuity in the present… appropriate for those just beginning to learn about the Holocaust… an invitation to look at Eliach’s life with compassion and awe.”
— Jewish Book Council (read the full review)
The Tower of Life is on the Best Books of 2022 Lists for:
Bank Street College of Education's Best Books of 2023
Cooperative Children's Book Center
ALA Rise: A Feminist Book Project
School Library Journal Best Nonfiction of 2022
New York Public Library Best Books for Kids: Biography & Memoir
Chicago Public Library Best Informational Books for Younger Readers
Booklist Online Editor's Choice
Tablet Magazine's Best Jewish Children's Books of 2022
Betsy Bird's 31 Days, 31 Lists: Nonfiction Picture Books
Betsy Bird's 31 Days, 31 Lists: Fabulous Photography
A Mighty Girl Women's History Month 2023
A 2023 Mock Sydney Taylor Honor for The Tower of Life!
The Tower of Life was included in Hadassah Magazine's 8 Inspiring Gifts for Hanukkah.
The Tower of Life is a finalist for the Russell Freedman Nonfiction Award for a Better World! Thank you to the SCBWI Impact & Legacy Fund for this recognition along with these other inspiring books.
Artwork from THE TOWER OF LIFE, illustrated by Susan Gal (Scholastic 10-4-22), has been selected for the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show, which will be exhibited at their gallery in New York from October 26, 2022-January 7, 2023. This exhibit showcases original art from the year’s best children’s books as determined by a jury of outstanding illustrators, art directors, and editors.
News, Blogs, & Interviews with Chana Stiefel
The Margaret Wise Brown Prize for Children's Literature
Matthew C. Winner's Children's Book Podcast Featuring Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners
Scholastic Reads Podcast for Holocaust Remembrance Day
Sydney Taylor Blog Tour on SLJ with Travis Jonker
Writing & Illustrating with Kathy Temean
Jewish Book Council interview with Chana Stiefel and illustrator Susan Gal By Emily Schneider
Unpacking Picture Book Power by Sandy Brehl
Simply 7 Interview with Jena Benton Lasley
The Whole Megillah Author's Notebook