The Number on My Father’s Arm / El número en el brazo de papá


This bilingual, novelized account of a US veteran’s imprisonment in a German concentration camp will introduce young readers to the Holocaust.

by Rodolfo Alvarado

ISBN-13: 978-1-55885-901-2
Publication Date: October 31, 2020
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 184
Imprint: Piñata Books
Ages: 10-15

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All his life, young Tomás overheard and was terrified by his father’s nightmares, but Papi would never explain his cries and screams. Even Mami didn’t know why he had bad dreams. Later, Tomás learns his father was a medic in World War II and his best friend died in his arms. The boy wonders if that experience could be the reason for his nighttime terrors.

In school, Tomás learns about the Holocaust and sees photographs of Jewish prisoners with numbers on their arms. He is shocked because his father has a similar tattoo! Could his father be a concentration camp survivor? Why won’t Papi tell his family about his experiences? As he tries to unravel the mystery of his father’s nightmares and tattoo, Tomás finds out his father—along with his siblings and parents—was put on a train many years earlier and deported from Los Angeles back to Mexico.

In this fictionalized account of the first Mexican American to register as a concentration camp survivor at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, author Rodolfo Alvarado tells the little-known story of Anthony Acevedo. A World War II veteran, he was held as a prisoner of war at Stalag IX-B and the concentration camp, Berga an der Elster. After the war, he and other veterans were forced by the US government to sign an affidavit agreeing to never tell their story. This fascinating account will acquaint intermediate readers with the history of World War II and the Holocaust, while drawing parallels to the xenophobia that led to the brutal expulsion of Mexicans and Mexican Americans from the United States in the early part of the twentieth century.