Author: Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, and Greg Salsedo
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: 4/1/2014
Length: 80 pages
Genre: Children’s historical fiction
Format: E-book graphic novel
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Hidden is the story of Dounia, a young Jewish girl living in France during the Holocaust, as told to her granddaughter in the present day. Dounia faced prejudice at school, separation from her parents, and being forced to hide in a rural home to escape the Nazis. She didn’t realize what was happening in the war or in the world at the time, but she faced heartbreak and discrimination that no young child should ever experience.
Hidden is a short, gentle graphic novel about a young girl’s experiences as a Jewish girl during the Holocaust. It is definitely written for the 7-11 age group, which is why I use the word “gentle” here. Obviously there is nothing gentle about the Holocaust, which is why teachers don’t generally approach the topic until middle school (maaaaaaybe fourth or fifth grade). But Dounia’s story focuses more on the emotions of a small child watching everything happening around her. She’s scared. She doesn’t understand why she’s treated differently. She misses her parents terribly. The story stays away from the physical violence and concentration camps without sacrificing the important points about this era in history.
One thing I appreciated was the end material explaining the experience of French children during the war. I had not realized that the French people worked so hard to protect the children in particular from the grips of the Nazis. They were able to move, hide, and protect a very high percentage of these children. So while Hidden is a story of cruelty of a few individuals toward children, it is also a story of many brave individuals who risked much to protect them.
Final Grade: B
This would be such a good book in introducing the tragedies of the Holocaust to children in elementary school. I don’t read a lot of graphic novels for this age group that aren’t solidly in the humor genre, so it was also refreshing to see a more series topic approached in this format. I’d recommend the book for an elementary or middle school library, and would even encourage the purchase of a class set! High school teachers and librarians looking for a similar book should consider Art Spielgelman’s Maus, which offers depth and complexity appropriate to the age group.
Can anyone else recommend “serious” graphic novels for kids in elementary school? I really can’t think of any other books that aren’t humor books!