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Review: Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children

My reading has been pretty serious this summer. I finally finished the adaptation of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, I’ve read two accounts of the Japanese internment, I’m in the middle of a story about Nazi saboteurs, and to round it all out, I picked up another graphic novel about the Holocaust.

Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children
Edited by Kath Shackleton. Illustrated by Zane Whittingham
Sourcebooks eXplore, October 2019, $19.99
Recommended for grades 5 and up

Sourcebooks isn’t necessarily known for publishing graphic novels, but they did a wonderful job with Eion Colfer’s Illegal. Survivors of the Holocaust is a slim but not so little graphic novel (it’s just under the 100-page mark) that tells the story of six children and how they survived the Holocaust. Each story is markedly different, and even I, who thought I was seasoned in the different sorts of survival stories of the era, found myself fascinated by “new” stories of survival.

Heinz’s life was turned upside down when Hitler came to power; Heinz escaped to Canada, but that did not guarantee his freedom. Trude was sent to London and didn’t really settle very well. Ruth was reunited with her family, but her exit from Germany was miraculous. Martin was on the famed Kindertransport. Suzanne was hidden on a farm and lived a very solitary life. And Arek described his experience in Auschwitz.

The stories aren’t all that detailed, and each could all be a book of their own. But it’s a glimpse. Each of the stories give you a sense of the loss and cruelty faced by the Jews during World War II. The artwork has a funky and chaotic feel. Figures are all over the place and images pop out of panels. It felt like the artist was trying to mimic the chaotic feeling of the time.

The book includes a nice amount of backmatter. It gives us a “what happened next,” with a current photo of the survivor and more details of what happened to them after the war. There’s a glossary and a timeline.

This is a good and compelling introduction to the Holocaust, although young readers who don’t have any background knowledge might need a bit of help, because it is meant to be narratives, not a history of the Holocaust.

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Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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