Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope
author: Mara Rockliff
illustrator: Zosia Dzierzawska
Once there was a town of many languages but few kind words. Growing up Jewish in Bialystok, Poland, in the late 1800s, young Leyzer Zamenhof was surrounded by languages: Russian, Yiddish, German, Polish, and many others. But the multiethnic Bialystok was full of mistrust and suspicion, and Leyzer couldn’t help but wonder: If everyone could understand each other, wouldn’t they be able to live in peace? So Zamenhof set out to create a new language, one that would be easy to learn and could connect people around the world. He published a book of his new language and signed it Dr. Esperanto — “one who hopes.” Mara Rockliff uses her unique knack for forgotten history to tell the story of a young man who saw possibility where others saw only barriers, while Polish illustrator Zosia Dzierzawska infuses every scene with warmth and energy, bringing the story of Esperanto to life.
Meet the boy who made up his own language — and brought hope to millions.