Feature Book of the Week: Prisoner B- 3087 by Alan Gratz

Monday, September 28, 2015


Prisoner B-3087
Alan Gratz

Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps.

10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.

It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later.

Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will -- and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story.

Author Post

Prisoner B-3087 was really tough book for me to write, because some of the things that happened to Jack were so horrible. At the same time, I think it's really important that we never forget those things happened, and so I was glad to be able to work with him to tell his story.

Jack and his wife Ruth took his story to Scholastic, and they immediately saw that it would make a great book. But neither Jack nor Ruth are writers, so Scholastic asked me to write the book. Once I heard Jack’s account of his time in the camps, I couldn't resist—it was such an incredible story! In particular, I liked that he survived. So many stories of the Holocaust of course did not end so well.

I worked on the book for a while before I ever met Jack in person, using what he and his wife had told Scholastic about his experiences in World War II and doing a lot of research on the concentration camps on my own. Then, about halfway through writing the first draft, I got to fly to New York and meet Jack. We spent the afternoon at the Holocaust Museum in Manhattan, where some artifacts of Ruth's time during the war are on display.

Jack's memory isn't what it once was, and he wasn't able to remember the answers to some of the questions I had for him. But then, when he read my first draft of the book, a lot of things came back to him! I think he needed the world of the book to help jog his memory. I'm pleased that I was able to write something that brought the past to life again for him, even if a great deal of that past was painful. Jack is one of the bravest people I've ever met.

Thanks so much for choosing Prisoner B-3087 for the Area-Wide Book Battle! I hope you enjoy it.

Alan Gratz

About the Author

Alan Gratz's first novel, Samurai Shortstop, was named one of the ALA's 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults. His second novel,  Something Rotten, was a 2008 ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Readers, and was followed by a sequel, Something Wicked, in October 2008. His first middle grade novel, The Brooklyn Nine,was one of the ALA's Top Ten Sports Books for Youth, and was followed in 2011 by Fantasy Baseball. His latest novels are Starfleet Academy: The Assassination Game and Prisoner B-3087His short fiction has appeared in Knoxville's Metropulse magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and in the anthologies Half-Minute Horrors and Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction, which benefits victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

As the first Artist in Residence at the American School in Japan in 2010, Alan spent six weeks teaching historical fiction-writing to middle school students in Tokyo, and he was the Thurber House Children's Writer in Residence in 2011, living and writing in James Thurber's attic for a month while working with young writers from all around the Columbus, Ohio area. 

In addition to writing plays, magazine articles, and a few episodes of A&E's City Confidential, Alan has taught catapult-building to middle-schoolers, written more than 6,000 radio commercials, sold other people's books, lectured at a Czech university, and traveled the galaxy as a space ranger. (One of these, it should be pointed out, is not true.)

Alan was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of the 1982 World's Fair. After a carefree but humid childhood, Alan attended the University of Tennessee, where he earned a College Scholars degree with a specialization in creative writing, and, later, a Master's degree in English education. He now lives with his wife Wendi and his daughter Jo in the high country of Western North Carolina, where he enjoys reading, eating pizza, and, perhaps not too surprisingly, watching baseball. Learn more about Alan Gratz at his website.

15 Delicious Comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the first book battle book I read this year and it was amazing. The way Alan Gratz described the concentration camps and the living conditions were amazingly descriptive.
Yael Portman
Brittany Woods Middle School

St. Gabriel said...

This book reminds me of Les Miserable where they call prisoners by a number.
Quinn St. Gabriel the archangel

Anonymous said...

This is my FAVORITE book by far 5 out of 5 STARS

Anonymous said...

This book sounds very sad and I'm not sure I'll be able to make it past the first chapter without disappearing into a puddle of tears, but I'll try.

Tammira Williams-From Hazelwood Central Middle school

Anonymous said...

this book seems so tense and i want to read but am strugling to get my hands on it



Amy Harness said...

SYLO is a very well written book. We loved it because it is very suspenseful and leaves you hanging at the edge of your seat. There are three books in the series. The author's descriptive words are wonderful and we highly recommend it!

Parkway Central Middle School

Kelly Collins -hixon middle said...

I think Prisioner B-3087 by Alan Gratz was a moving and powerful book taht explaine the stuggles and the dangers in the Death or Concentration camps.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Most people think a historic book like this would be boring. Even I thought that at first. This ended up to be so good. At the same time, it makes you cry.

Hazelwood West Middle School

Kelly Collins -hixon middle said...

I love that this book had lots of detail and was very powerful and yet it was still short and to the point.

Ria said...

Ladue Middle School - Prisoner B-3087. I like this book because it fascinates me because it is about WW2. It's interesting reading something you have never faced in your life. (You should never face it either) This book is also a true story.

Donna said...

Ladue Middle School - Prisoner B-3087 was a rich book chockfull of detailed personal and emotional restraints, growth, revelations, and unspeakable infractions thrusted upon the human spirit. I connected with Yanek, the main character, on many levels; yet, at the same time, I could not imagine what he endured. Grit, loss, love, hope, fear, pain, mental anguish, self-discovery, religions faith...this book has it all. I enjoy most books I read, and this book will always haunt and inspire me.

Emma said...

Windsor Middle- Prisoner B-3087 was an eyeopener to what the Jewish people endured during the Holocaust. The way Yanek describes the concentration camps and how awful it was to be living through these times. Prisoner B-3087 is a story of courage.

Anonymous said...

I cried so hard. I loved it. Cross Keys Middle School

Anonymous said...

This book made me realize how lucky I am. Cross Keys Middle

Design by Use Your Imagination Designs All images from the Keeper Of Time kit by Studio Gypsy