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Anna Olswanger

by Anna Olswanger

Lexile measure: 710L

Greenhorn is Anna Olswanger's middle-grade novel and short indie film of the same name.

A young Holocaust survivor arrives at a New York yeshiva in 1946. His only possession is a small box that he never lets out of his sight. Daniel, the young survivor, rarely talks, but the narrator, a stutterer taunted by the other boys, comes to consider Daniel his friend.

The mystery of what's in the box propels this short work, but the real power of Greenhorn lies in the small human drama it describes. The stutterer and the boy whose family members died in the Holocaust are both ridiculed and excluded by the other kids. In the end, Aaron, the stutterer, finds his voice and a friend in Daniel, and their bond offers hope for a future, one in which Daniel is able to let go of his box.

On another level, Greenhorn is a book about language and its social role. The boys in the yeshiva speak the colorful language of Brooklyn youngsters of the mid-1940s, Yiddish-inflected and peppered with slang. Aaron struggles to express himself as he stutters. Daniel, the newcomer to the group, does not speak. Language helps bridge their very different worlds and experiences.

Based on a true story, Greenhorn gives human dimension to the Holocaust. It underscores our flawed humanity and speaks to the healing value of friendship. Greenhorn is a provocative book that middle schoolers and their families will want to ponder and discuss.

Premiere screenings of the film took place at the Landmark NuArt Theatre in L.A. and at The Museum of Tolerance in New York. Greenhorn was named a 2015 Audience Award Winner for Best Short Film Drama at the Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival at the Memphis Jewish Community Center. It subsequently aired on public television in Memphis and Kentucky, and was part of the Festival Internacional De Cine Judio en Mexico. In 2016 Greenhorn screened at the L.A. International Children’s Film Festival at WonderCon.

For more information about the book, contact the publisher NewSouth Books. For more information about screening the film, contact TMW Media.

Praise for Greenhorn

Kirkus Reviews
"Olswanger's deceptively simple tale can jump-start a discussion of the Holocaust, as well as the repercussions for those who survived and, indeed, for all humanity. A book to be read by adult and child together."

Publishers Weekly
"Olswanger's tale evinces a fine ear for the rough-and-tumble speech of city kids and an eye for detail."

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Readers won't want to miss the end matter's touching, humane coda to 'Daniel's tale,' which testifies to his eventual emotional recovery."

Video Librarian
"Greenhorn is a powerfully moving film about family, friendship, faith, and renewal. Highly recommended. Editor's Choice."

David Adler, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book for Nonfiction
"Greenhorn is both a heartwarming and heartrending story of friendship and tragedy in the aftermath of the Holocaust. I highly recommend it."

Karen Cushman, winner of the Newbery Medal
"Greenhorn is a tender, touching celebration of friendship, family, and faith. I must admit I cried at the horror and humanity of this simple story. Read it with your arms around someone you love."

Steve Sheinkin, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction
"A story to read and discuss with young readers certain to get the conversation started on this difficult subject."