Based on first-hand information. Here is the first English biography for middle graders on Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan who, at Auschwitz, offered himself in exchange for the life of a man with two children. The biography covers Kolbe's early life, his work as a journalist, and his founding of Niepokalanow, the world's largest friary. Kolbe's act of love and faith teaches young readers important lessons that Christianity means more than just going to church, that the Holocaust actually happened, and that saints can be as real and modern as the person standing next to you in line. For first-hand research, the author traveled to Poland to visit where Kolbe lived and to interview people who actually knew him, including his cousin, his secretary, and one of his students. In addition, the foreword is by Ted Wojtkowski, a fellow camp prisoner and now a well-known Polish American who was standing close to Kolbe when he made his offer of self-sacrifice. Kolbe's story is ideal for children of Polish descent, parochial schools, parish libraries, classes in cultural diversity, and classes on World War II or the Holocaust. And, while written simply enough for children, this book will move all readers showing just how much the human spirit can achieve.
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