August 27, 2015

Book Review: Hidden by Loic Dauvillier

Title: Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust
Author: Loic Dauvillier
Illustrator: Marc Lizano
Color by: Greg Salsedo
Translator: Alexis Siegel

In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps.

Hidden ends on a tender note, with Dounia and her mother rediscovering each other as World War II ends . . . and a young girl in present-day France becoming closer to her grandmother, who can finally, after all those years, tell her story. With words by Loïc Dauvillier and art by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, this picture book-style comic for young readers is a touching read.

There are many books about the Holocaust during World War 2.  Because of that I wondered what this book - let alone a graphic novel - could tell that other books hadn't already done.  What I found was a book that told a story I hadn't heard before in a format that captured all the emotion and affects in a way that stuck with me after closing the book. If you don't think a graphic novel can be powerful I ask you to look at this book.  The illustrations of Dounia and her mother convey in very simple lines the sadness, hurt and fear they felt.  One drawing in particular of Dounia's mother after returning from the concentration camp speaks a million words.  You know she suffered greatly without having to have it written out in sentences and paragraphs.  

As a teacher I could see using this book as a way to introduce the topic of the Holocaust to my students.  Many times what is out there is too graphic for a younger audience.  This book (although it's a graphic novel!) isn't graphic in it's account of what happened.  It doesn't hide it - but it doesn't feel the need to show it in full detail. Instead it focuses on the love of this family and how it held hope.  Sharing this book would allow for a discussion to start without having to dive right away into the specifics of what happened.  I will be sharing the book with the English and history teachers I work with.  

Final Thought: This is a moving, simple account of a Jewish family during World War 2 that manages to convey emotions in just a few words written beside perfectly drawn pictures.  

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