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Monday, November 30, 2015

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust
written by Loïc Dauvillier
illustrated by Marc Lizano
colorist Greg Salsedo



Six-ish French girl, Dounia Cohen, believes her dad when he says that it is a sherrif's badge that Nazis force her family to wear. It is, in fact, the obligatory yellow star that identifies them as Jewish.

Suddenly her teacher sends her to the back of the classroom and gives her the harsh treatment. Her classmates avoid her. She puts two and two together and realizes that she is being shunned just for being Jewish.

"I didn't understand how being Jewish made me different from the other girls in my class. Also... why had Dad made up that story about sheriffs? [There aren't any sheriffs in France.]"

A frightening nighttime police raid claims her parents, but, Dounia is well-hidden and left alone thanks to her Dad's quick-thinking: "My father told them that I had gone to Marseille to stay with relatives. It was the second time I'd ever heard my father lie."

Kindly downstairs neighbors, Pericards, hide Dounia in their apartment for a while but it still was too unsafe. Dounia is smuggled off to a farm in the French countryside with Mrs. Pericard, who pretends to be her mother to dodge persecution. Dounia had to change her name to Simone Pierret to sound Catholic. While at the farm, Dounia learns a lot, pretends to be a Roman Catholic attending Mass, and stays there for the duration of the war.

However, Dounia does see her mom - emaciated and unrecognizable after serving at the Nazi camp.

Told in flashbacks as Dounia recounts her life story to her granddaughter, Elsa, one night, the book is at once heart-wrenching and hopeful. The illustrations appear childlike with giant oval heads and dots for eyes. Muted palette of earthy greens and browns complement the mood and the tone of the proceedings. While the seven year old had some trouble keeping the Elsa parts and Dounia's flashbacks separate and clear, the 10 year old had no such issues.

First Second look at the book

[cover image source: US Macmillan]

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