Friday, May 2, 2014

Hidden: A Child's Story of The Holocaust

How would you explain The Holocaust to your Jewish child in the 1940s? Would you turn The Star of David into a Sheriff's badge or would you just explain the truth to them? This is illustrated in the graphic novel called, Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust written by Loïc Dauvillier and illustrated by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo. In this tender novel, it depicts a story of an elderly grandmother telling her young granddaughter about her time during The Holocaust. It is made known that she has never shared these stories with anyone else until now. In the grandmother's story, she explains how things changed once Hitler came to power and how she was separated from her friends at school and how even her teachers treated her differently because she was Jewish. As the grandmother tells her granddaughter her story, the readers are given a heartwarming tale of how multiple people risk their lives trying to save and hide her as a child from the Nazi's. This novel gives the sense of friendship, humanity, and morality at such a harsh time in history.

Some strengths that the book has is that it is very short and simple, however, very engaging. While it is in the Young Adult Literature section, it was actually created for Grades 1-5. It contains pictures suitable for both age groups and engages the reader with its tale. Not only does it show light on the experience of a child in hiding during The Holocaust but it also explains how being optimistic is very important in bad situations. The book is additionally very easy and quick to read for any age group. From reading it alongside with the pictures, it helps the reader understand the story and analyze the situation as an outsider. The main character goes through different obstacles such as identity issues, family issues, and world issues like any reader. If this book were to be used in high school, I feel like it could be examined in a History class and an English Language Art's class. Even though it is for a younger age group, it is still historical fiction that can be analyzed. Since it is very short, the class could not have a full unit on it, however, it could be used during a unit on The Holocaust to see different perspectives.

Some weaknesses that the book has is that it is actually for Grades 1-5 rather than young adults specifically. While it is still on the YALSA list, it was written for a younger age group. Here is a link of a 7 year old reviewing the book for the YouTube channel Kids Book Reviews. Even though he is not a young adult, he does a great job reviewing the book. As you see in the book review, the little boy relates Hidden to Anne Frank. If you are interested in other books about hidden survivors during The Holocaust, look at this book. It's age range is for 9-12.

As a reviewer, I would encourage primary school teachers to use this graphic novel with their student's. I feel like it more suitable for them rather than secondary students. While I can see this novel being used in a high school class, I think it would short-lived and would benefit more for its directed audience. I personally believe that Hidden is more suitable for younger kids because of how The Holocaust is explained to the main character and what type of information is given to her from adults. While they talk about the concentration camps and the brutality of the time period, it is touched very lightly in order to not scare anyone. I feel like high schoolers would be able to handle more than the book gives.

In April 2014, The New York Times put out an article written by Elizabeth Wein explaining the novel and how she connects with it and other books like it. Additionally, if you want to learn more about the author of this graphic novel, click the link to see his personal website! You may have to click "translation" since he is not from The United States. In his website, he talks about his life and his work and journey as an author.

If you are interesting in reading this graphic novel, click here!


marty edwards said...

This is a wonderfully crafted review; esp. good use of graphics and links. The story does sound interesting, if better for younger children. It raises an interesting point: at what age do we explain something so horrific to children? I think this book has the right idea myself, it should be brought up but done so gently.

Brittany Ranney said...

This book sounds interesting and it is a different way of introducing the holocaust to kids. It is a good way to be cautious of introducing this piece of history to students while keeping students intrigued by including the images. I agree that this book seems a bit young and should be recommended for a younger audience than young adults.

Fernando Arce said...

I think that we always have some level of hesitation when it comes to talking to a child about a painful event or circumstance in history. The holocaust is one of such events that are hard to explain to a child in a way that won't ruin their innocence or scarred them. This graphic novel sounds that it can do the job fine in introducing children to the holocaust in a way that is easy for them to understand. I could see this being used in a middle school classroom accompanying another more challenging book on the subject, almost like a supplement rather it being the main book for the unit. Good job with the review and for the helpful links.