Johanna Reiss was born and brought up in Holland. After she was graduated from college, she taught elementary school for several years before coming to the United States to live. Her first book for children, The Upstairs Room, was a Newbery Honor Book, an American Library Association Notable Children's Book, and a Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book, and it won the Jewish Book Council Juvenile Book Award and the Buxtehuder Bulle, a prestigious German children's book award. Mrs. Reiss writes that soon after she had finished Tie Upstairs Room, she found "there was still something I wanted to say, something that was as meaningful to me as the story I had told in the first book, the story of a war. 'The fighting has stopped'; 'Peace treaty signed,' newspapers announce at the conclusion of every war. From a political point of view, the war is over, but in another sense it has not really ended. People are fragile. They are strong, too, but wars leave emotional scars that take a long time to heal, generations perhaps. I know this to be true of myself, and of others. And out of those feelings came The Journey Back, a story of the aftermath of the Second World War." Though Mrs. Reiss lives with her daughters in New York City, they make frequent visits to Holland to visit Mrs. Reiss's sisters, Rachel and Sini, and Johan and Dientje Oosterveld.
Nine-year-old Piri describes the bewilderment of being a Jewish child during the 1939-1944 German occupation of her hometown (then in Hungary and now in the Ukraine) and relates the ordeal of trying to survive in the ghetto.
Upon the Head of the Goat is the winner of the 1982 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and a 1982 Newbery Honor Book.
“This is a book that should be read by all those interested in the Holocaust and what it did to young and old.” —Isaac Bashevis Singer
When twelve-year-old Jack Mandelbaum is separated from his family and shipped off to the Blechhammer concentration camp, his life becomes a never-ending nightmare. With minimal food to eat and harsh living conditions threatening his health, Jack manages to survive by thinking of his family.
In this Robert F. Silbert Honor book, readers will glimpse the dark reality of life during the Holocaust, and how one boy made it out alive.William Allen White Award Winner Robert F. Silbert Honor ALA Notable Children’s Book VOYA Nonfiction Honor Book