What Rosa Brought

What Rosa Brought

By Author / Illustrator

Jacob Sager Weinstein, Eliza Wheeler


True Stories

Age range(s)



HarperCollins Children's Books








Author Jacob Sager Weinstein and New York Times bestselling illustrator Eliza Wheeler deliver a stunning picture book about a young Jewish girl fleeing Nazi occupation with her parents. Drawing on the childhood experiences of the author's mother, this story of family, immigration, and identity shows the boundless power of love.

Vienna, Austria, is the only home Rosa knows. While her parents work at their store, she plays with her grandmother, reads her favorite books, and climbs trees. But when the Nazis arrive in 1938, everything changes.

Rosa's family is Jewish, and the Nazis' new laws make it dangerous for Jews to live in Vienna. Rosa's parents can no longer run their store. Soon, some Jews decide to leave the country, and Rosa wants to go, too. But where would they go? And what would Rosa be able to bring with her?



A favourite 'getting to know you' lesson I used toteach when I worked in schools was to ask the children to draw, or list, what favoured or useful items they would take with them if going on a long, adventurous journey. Usually, these lessons were linked to a story that had been read to the class, and what the children chose to take with them spoke volumes about the child and life at home. I learned about favourite toys (soft and not so soft), tv programmes, favourite books, games, songs, pets, grandparents who lived nearby, and grandparents who lived in other counties. But these were light-hearted activities, and the children knew that they could be as creative as they wished. They knew that the items they were taking, whilst holding some valuable meaning for them, were representative only and not real: in reality they were going nowhere.

Those sessions took place several years ago now, and I suspect that should this form of lesson take place today, there might be some very different perspectives. Choices made might be based on real experience, rather than an idealistic lesson. Jacob Sager Weinstein's book What Rosa Brought is based on the experience of his mother and the choices that she and her family were forced to make. It is the story of her early life in Vienna, living with her Jewish parents and grandmother. Her parents ran their own grocery business while Rosa was cared for by her grandmother. When the Nazis came and took control, their lives were changed for ever.

Life for the Jews was dangerous, and, like other Viennese Jews, Rosa's parents were no longer allowed to run their business. Eventually the decision was made to leave Vienna. Difficult choices had to be made: what to take and what to leave behind. But one of the most important things in Rosa's life - her Grandma - had to remain in Vienna. So, Rosa takes the most important thing of all on the journey: her Grandma's love.

Despite the exceptionally difficult content, this is a beautiful book, and Rosa's story is told with purposeful simplicity. Like all good picture books, the most complex aspects of the story are told through the illustrations. These become darker and darker as the situation for the Jews rapidly escalates.  Eliza Wheeler's artwork captures the menace of the more harrowing aspects of the story with images of book burnings, broken windows, soup kitchens, and spartan apartments devoid of furnishings and belongings. The end papers are worth a mention as they are a tender depiction of all of the things that a Jewish family might hold dear, presented in two very different settings. Stunning but heartrending.

This picture book would prompt a wide range of discussions in upper KS2 classes.

Picture book / Reviewed by Tracy Parvin, consultant

Suggested Reading Age 7+


What Rosa Brought is a beautifully written and illustrated story about a young girl who lives in Vienna with her family during the Nazi invasion. What makes this more moving is that the events are based on a true story lived by the author's own family.

Rosa lives happily with her Mum, Dad and Grandma but when the Nazis arrive, things change. Rosa's family apply to leave for America but their attempts are unsuccessful. Dad begins making wooden trunks secretly and one day a rabbi comes, asking for a box to protect the Torah from the Nazis. Rosa imagines what she would put in her box... Precious items, photos, her missing cat's toy mouse. Eventually, Rosa's family is successful with their application to leave. However, the whole family is not granted permission and Grandma must stay behind. As Rosa and her family leave, Grandma tells Rosa to '..take my love with you'. And this is exactly what Rosa brings.  She takes her love and carries it in her heart throughout her life.

The powerful illustrations in this book add real emotion to the telling of this story. It is a wonderful text to use with children to engage and deepen their understanding of life at this time.

Picture book / Reviewed by Maria Faithorn, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 7+