- Posted by Johanna on February 9, 2014 at 5:13 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Loic Dauvillier; art by Marc Lizano
- PUBLISHER: First Second; $16.99 US
The simplest stories can be the most affecting. In Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, translated from the French, Elsa wakes one night to see her grandmother saddened by some old pictures. Grandma then tells Elsa of her childhood in Paris.
Grandma Dounia was Jewish, and as a six-year-old, she didn’t understand why she and her family had to wear yellow stars or why her friends suddenly disappeared or wouldn’t talk to her or why she was sent to the back of her classroom. The reader understands, though, and the simple presentation of facts can be heart-breaking, all the more so because one child is listening to the experience of another. Although the story is historical, the emotions — of fear, separation, shunning — are potent and current.
The big-headed figures contribute to the deceptively simple art style, giving it the feel of a children’s book. The plot beats are familiar to other stories of Jewish survivors: Dounia is hidden from the police, then taken in by a caring neighbor family when her parents are sent to a concentration camp.
The quiet reminder throughout is that family and loved ones are the most important things. The framing, with the grandmother telling her story to Elsa, provides comfort, as the reader knows that she ultimately survives. It’s also helpful to remember the kindness of those who saved Dounia, non-relatives who did what they could to fight evil through everyday gestures. Taking care of a child is a relatively basic effort, but even that could have been threatening to their own lives.
Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust is currently available for order from comic shops with Diamond code FEB14 1298. It’s due out April 1. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)