Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust

Some of my favorite stories growing up were the ones my grandfather told about when he was a boy.  He grew up in Milwaukee in the 20s and 30s, and we got to hear about getting ice from the ice truck- or the butcher for whom they delivered sausages, who offered two salami slices as payment (instead of the usual one).  He then took the one slice, and cut it in half.  Much can be said about what we learn listening to these stories.

A sad, beautiful look at the Holocaust from the perspective of young Dounia.  Hidden, by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano & Greg Salsedo, starts with a young girl listening to her grandmother's story (a story the girl's father, Dounia's son, has never heard).

Dounia was a young Jewish girl in Paris.  As Nazis moved in, Dounia hid.  A series of neighbors and friends kept her alive, as her family was taken away to the concentration camps.

I think that's the shortest summary I've ever written, and while the story seems simple from what I just wrote (and it's a mere 88 pages)- it's so much more.  

The pictures give such an innocent, confused perspective.  It's almost as if you're peeking in on Dounia's life. The warm colors throughout, the glow of a candle or a fire in a dark room, also give the feel you're privy to something quiet and important.

The characters themselves are simply drawn- circles, lines, and dots.  Similar to those a child would draw, telling a story.  This adds to the childlike atmosphere of the book.

Dounia's family and friends are so scared, so brave.  It was heartbreaking from the beginning, when Dounia's father gives her her yellow star.  He tells her that they are playing; that they are a family of sheriffs.  It was reminiscent of Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful.

The escape to the farm was symbolic more than just being free- as farms are about growth and new life.  It is there that Dounia also gets a chance at a new life.

Speaking of Dounia's new life, the ending is happy.  I'll say that much.  But it is also sad.  When someone has been through something this terrible, this life-altering...it is so hard to keep it inside.  It is hard for the person who won't, or can't, share.  And it is hard for those around them, who know there is something more.  Who want to help ease that burden, or see where the person is coming from.

This graphic novel is so touching, so beautiful.  It shows the Holocaust in France (which, sadly, I tend to forget about France), and shows it in a way that's accessible to young readers.  It could open a lot of conversation about that whole period.  

I highly recommend this.  Read it by yourself, read it with your child...read it with tissues.  

*Hidden is being released in April as a tribute to Holocaust Remembrance Week.

Hidden is published by :01 First Second Books.  Review Copy graciously provided by the publisher.
Release Date: 04.01.2014

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