Wednesday, February 18, 2015


hidden: a child's story of the holocaust
loic dauvillier, marc lizano & greg salsedo
graphic novel/childrens/historical
first second
published 2012

Like every grandmother, Dounia was once a little girl herself.  Tonight, she's finally ready to tell her granddaughter a secret about her childhood - something she never even told her son.  Tonight, Dounia is ready to share her memories of Paris in 1942.  Memories of wearing a Star of David, of living in fear, of the kindness of strangers.  Memories of being hidden.

There are things in the history of our world that are difficult to know.  There are moments in time when the atrocities enacted upon human beings is too much and the knowledge of it is forever seared in your memory despite having never lived it.

For me, that is the Holocaust.  I remember being a teenager in high school and seeing a video in World History of the Holocaust.  I'm sure it's a video every World History class in just about every city across the United States watched at the time.  But what I remember most clearly were the bodies.  The emaciated nude bodies being dumped like garbage into a landfill.  I don't know what horrified me more.  Was it the human beings being treated like trash, the sheer number of murdered people or was it that someone filmed it?  Filmed it as if they'd want to go back and watch it like vacation videos.  It was an image in time that I won't ever forget.  When someone mentions the Holocaust it is what comes to my mind.

After having children I wondered at times, how does one explain these things to one's children?  I have explained the Japanese-American internment camps to Emma because that is a part of her history and I told her about the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but not in any detail.

But how do you explain the genocide of eleven million people to a child?

Hidden tries to do that.  Dounia is telling the story to her granddaughter from the perspective of herself as a child.  How it began, how her life changed.  How she was hidden and how people who didn't have to, saved her life.  Written for children and found in the children's section at the library it is an accounting of part of those events that open up a discussion.  Am I ready to have that discussion with Emma?  Probably not quite yet as I couldn't get through it without crying.

Hidden is a powerful piece of literature.  My heart was pounding and my throat was tight with tears throughout the book.  There were panels that took my breath away and my heart ached for Dounia and her family.  And within the pages that contain such sadness there is hope and joy and as much as it is a story of helplessness it is also a story of survival and living.

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