Briar Rose

By Jane Yolen


The whole book is about a 23 year old girl, named Becca; who is trying to hold a promise to her grandmother. She calls her Gemma. Gemma is dying in the nursing home and is telling her favorite story, Sleeping Beauty. She didn't finish, instead she told Becca her secret. 'I am the sleeping princess' she says. Becca and her two older sisters think she has lost her mind, but Gemma insists. She makes Becca promise she will find her castle. When Becca is about to leave one of the nurses gives her a box with a Rose on it. 'This was your grandmother's box, we found it in her dresser,'she said. Becca takes it home, and everything changes. There were old photographs and papers. Becca, along with her whole family, didn't know anything about Gemma's past. The Rose box will take Becca as far as Poland to find the truth.

Historical part


In the book the author portrayed the historical part perfectly. The historical part was Chelmno. The author did a good job explaining what it is and what happens there. Chelmno was the extermination camp that Becca's grandma was sent to. The man that is telling Becca about Chelmno was Josef Potocki. He witnessed everything that happened there, except for the experiments. Josef escaped with four other people, and later they find Gemma. She was dumped out of a gas van in the forest, and some unlikely things happen.

Chelmno really did exist. It was not an ordinary camp. People who were sent there never came out. There were only three survivors. 300,000 died there. It was 50 miles north of Lodz, Poland. There really was a castle there (which was Gemma's castle in Briar Rose). At the camp they would cram 50-70 people in the back of a van and haul them to the forest where they would dump them out. The exhaust pipe was stuck into the inside of the van, so the people would suffocate and die. They were called gas vans. The camp started December 7th, 1941 and finally stopped January 17th, 1945.

MLA Works Cited

"Chelmno Extermination Camp (Poland)." Chelmno Extermination Camp (Poland). N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2014. <>.

"The Holocaust." Holocaust History. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2014. <>.

Theme summary

The theme of this book is never give up on your promise or your family. It also shows people aren't always who you think they are. Friends are now, family is forever.