The Red Ribbon
Ella is a 14-year-old girl who is obsessed by fashion and making beautiful dresses. We meet her on the first day of her first job as a seamstress. At first, the story feels like a dystopia set in some harsh future. And then the penny drops. Ella’s ‘Birchwood’ is the Nazi concentration camp known as Auschwitz-Birkenau and the year is 1944. It’s Ella’s job in the camp, where everyone must either work or be killed, to make beautiful clothes for the wives of Nazi officers and female guards.
Although the story of Ella is fictional, author Lucy Adlington is also a costume historian, who has researched into the Auschwitz Commandant’s wife Hedwig Hoss, who really did employ prisoners to work on her wardrobe. Fashion and Auschwitz may seem an unlikely pairing in a children’s book, but this story is tremendously thought-provoking about the horrors of the Holocaust and the deeper meaning of clothes and the way you present yourself to the world.
The Red Ribbon is a moving story of friendship, kindness and heroism under impossible circumstances.