Title: Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust
Author: Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano (Illustrator), Greg Salsedo (Ink)
Publisher: First Second Books
Check out this book on Goodreads.
In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps.
Hidden ends on a tender note, with Dounia and her mother rediscovering each other as World War II ends . . . and a young girl in present-day France becoming closer to her grandmother, who can finally, after all those years, tell her story. (Source: Goodreads)
Hidden tells the story of Dounia telling her granddaughter the story of her experiences during the Holocaust. This book, aimed at younger kids, is a shortened, abridged version of a generalized story of what the Holocaust was like for Dounia living in hiding in France. I was really interested in this book because I wanted to see how the Holocaust would be approached in a book for such a young audience, and as France is something of a special case I wondered how they would represent the nation in the book. I have to be honest, I was a little disappointed.
The art in this book was nice. I like the style a lot actually. It’s not too clean with suits the content, and it seems appropriate for children with the round big heads, and the cute people, but has enough edge to deal with the content. I liked the colour scheme used, there wasn’t a lot of overly bright stuff until the very end, which worked really well with the flow of the story and the content as well. The art was the best part of this book for me because it seemed age appropriate and helped to get the content to the right level for the target audience for me.
In terms of storytelling, it is a frame tale. Dounia tells her granddaughter about her childhood in France during the war and living in hiding during the Holocaust. The frame worked well because it allowed a better understanding of the lasting effects of the events of Dounia’s childhood and how it had also affected her son. This mode of storytelling worked really well for me.
The content itself was the disappointment for me. I understand why a lot of things were done the way they were, but they still disappointed me and maybe kind of point out the problems of trying to make this content “appropriate” for children instead of addressing the content head-on without any abridging or censoring of the more horrifying parts of the history. Essentially the problem is that the Holocaust as it was for the majority of people, the camps, the murders, the forced labour, are absent from this book. They are in the background to the point of being absent. I didn’t like that because I felt like it was removing the actual issue of the history. Obviously there are stories like Dounia’s however that doesn’t mean the camps themselves shouldn’t be addressed.
Further to this, there is an afterword in the book, which is text and probably a little above reading level for the kids and more aimed at parents, which goes into a little more detail. This book, like Sarah’s Key, is in some way about French collaboration. The afterword of this book is where the idea of collaboration is addressed. That it is addressed at all is positive, however I think there should have been/could have been more said because what happened to Dounia’s parents was done by the French government, not the Nazis, and I felt that was sort of swept under the rug as is often done. A lot of this is an issue for me from an academic point of view, and maybe not of concern to most readers, however I did take issue with this a little.
As an introduction to the Holocaust I think this book is good, though a little light on real Holocaust content. I did like it, but for me it was something of a disappointment perhaps because I had built it up in my head too much. I would recommend this book, but I think the issues I brought up should be kept in mind as they should be when reading any content about the Holocaust, including Sarah’s Key which I mentioned above.