Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Review: Hidden (Historical Picture Book)

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust
Written by Loic Dauvillier
Illustrated by Marc Lizano
Color by Greg Salsedo
Translated by Alexis Siegel
ISBN: 9781596438736
April 2014
80 pages

Bibliographic Information
Dauvillier, L., Lizano, M., & Salcedo, G. (2014). Hidden: A child's story of the Holocaust. New York: First Second.

Plot Description
Hidden is a graphic novel about a young girl Elsa and her grandmother Dounia, who shares her story of being a Jewish child in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. The majority of the book is set in Dounia's flashback, which recounts how she was separated from her parents and forced to hide her Jewish identity in order to remain safe. Interspersed in the telling of Dounia's childhood story are present day sequences that feature conversational exchanges between Elsa and her grandmother. Elsa asks questions and shares comments that may mirror thoughts of readers. Also, as Elsa is about the same age as Dounia was in the 1940s, the reader may directly compare and contrast the two characters, relating to and developing greater empathy for Dounia.

Quantitative Reading Level
Lexile: GN300L
ATOS: 2.8

Qualitative Reading Analysis (High for Grades 2-3)
While the quantitative ATOS rating indicates that the text difficulty may be accessible for students with about a third grade equivalent reading level, the knowledge demands are complex since the subject matter of World War II and the Holocaust may be unfamiliar to children at this age. While the book could at least be discussed in terms of general discrimination, the grave implications of the Holocaust may be considered qualitatively advanced. Some details that may be of concern to parents include an incident when Dounia's Jewish friend was forced to pull down his pants to show his circumcised penis to classmates. While this is not pictured graphically, it is described. Also, at the end of the book, Dounia is reunited with her mother, but never sees her father again, a plot element that lends itself to discussion regarding genocide. Thus, even though the quantitative level of the text may be lower, this book could be considered to be a more appropriate read for older students.

Content Areas
  • History-Social Science (World War II, Holocaust)
  • English Language Arts (fictional narrative)
  • Art (visual storytelling)

Content Area Standards

Curriculum Suggestions
  • World War II and the Holocaust - Students may identify details from the story and conduct further research to find correlating historical evidence. For instance, they may locate primary source photographs that mirror drawings and identify events that directly connect with plot elements.
  • Oral history - Using the story as a model of oral history, students may seek out, record, and/or retell the story of an adult in their lives. They may mirror Hidden's storytelling structure by placing themselves in the setting of the retold event and assuming the point of view of their main subject.
  • Visual storytelling - Students may study the illustrations and text layout (e.g., comic panels, framing, speech bubbles, etc.) to determine how it affects the reading of the story. They may then apply these concepts to create their own illustrated narrative of another historical event.

Subjects and Themes
  • Graphic novel
  • World War II and Holocaust
  • Memory and oral history
  • Family relationships


Links to Supporting Digital Content

Personal Thoughts
I love the way that this graphic novel manages to balance a serious topic in such a graceful way that makes it accessible for a wide range of readers, from young to old. Through the present day characters of Elsa, her grandmother Dounia, and Elsa's father (Dounia's son), we get to connect with the wonderful idea of family history and inter-generational storytelling. Meanwhile, Dounia's childhood memories create a historical depiction that is rich with relatable emotions, helping readers develop empathy-based understanding. When read along with the opportunity for conversation and questions, I think that this is a great way to introduce young people to the Holocaust.

Reviewed in conjunction with San Jose State University's School of Information Fall 2015 INFO 237-10 School Library Media Materials course. Fulfills "picture book on a historical topic" for Subject Area Blog Assignment.

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