Genre: Family

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust (2014) by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, & Greg Salsedo

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust (2014) by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, & Greg SalsedoHidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier
Published by Macmillan on April 1st 2014
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Family, Historical Fiction, Holocaust, Middle Grade, Multigenerational
Pages: 80
Goodreads
four-stars

Suggested age range: 10 and up

“It was hard…but we were together.”

The Book:  When her granddaughter finds Dounia crying late one night, Dounia takes Elsa on her lap and begins to share her story. Hidden tells the story of Dounia, who was forced to hide from the Germans in France in 1942.What ensues is a touching, and at times saddening tale of one child’s experience during the Holocaust. Her parents do all they can to keep Dounia safe, even at the expense of their own lives. Originally translated from the French, Hidden underscores the bravery and courage of those who helped Jews during the Holocaugreek hiddenst, but also highlights the resilience of the very young during a terrible time in world history.

Spirituality in Hidden: Needless to say, there are several ways this story revealed a spiritual landscape. First, in the area of relational connectedness: I love the stronger connection that develops between Dounia and her granddaughter as she shares her past—including its joys and tragedies. Because Dounia is opening up about her history, she also develops a deeper bond with her son, and this is revealed visually at the very end of the story. That alone is a strong spiritual aspect of the story and could be a meaningful point for readers. Another spiritual aspect to highlight with any group discussion of the book is the bravery and sacrifice of those who risked their lives and gave of their resources to help hide children during the Holocaust.

A question for you to think about: What’s so spiritual about people helping others they don’t even know? And risking their lives for them? Both the textual and visual geography of this graphic novel further reinforce the potential spirituality of children’s literature.

Who Should Read This Book: Recommended for age 10 and up. This would be an excellent book for the classroom, and I think it’s a graphic novel that would be equally as meaningful shared between parent(s) and child reader. Just as the story opens with Elsa on her grandmother’s lap, hearing about her grandmother’s past and heritage, children and parents could talk about their own family background after the reading of this story. There’s a plethora of other types of discussions that groups of readers could dive into with this story, and I’m sure educators would see a lot of potential for curriculum development with this book related to both language arts and social studies curriculum.

The Final Word: The teamwork revealed through this book among author, illustrators, and translator is brilliant. I especially would look closely at the relationship between the words and the pictures. There are rich gaps within the story—pictures that extend the text, and text that fills in gaps in the pictures. This isn’t a simplistic graphic novel, but a rich and rewarding experience. This is another one that might require the tissue box, but it’s worth it.

Strongly recommended! I waited too long to read this one, and I read it all in one sitting. A fantastic addition to the already rich field of middle grade graphic novels for 2014.

Have you read it? What did you think? Are there other graphic novels set in this time period that you would recommend?

Check out the French cover below:

french hidden

four-stars
What Katie Read

Uncovering the Secrets of Jellicoe Road (2006, Melina Marchetta)

Uncovering the Secrets of Jellicoe Road (2006, Melina Marchetta)Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Published by Harper Collins on April 6th 2010
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary, Family, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Orphans & Foster Homes, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Goodreads

Suggested age range: 15 and up

“Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered and every secret will be made known.”

I finally read it!! During Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon!! And it was amazing!!

The Book: A tragedy took place on Jellicoe Road. Friendships were forged and flowers were planted. Eighteen years later, Taylor is trying to piece together what happened, and how it relates to her own story of being abandoned by her mother on that same road. When Hannah, who is like a second mother to Taylor, disappears, Taylor does everything she can to figure out where she is. A strange recurring dream of a boy in a tree continues to haunt Taylor, and she senses someone following her. And then there’s her friendship with Jonah Griggs, leader of the Cadets–the social group in constant battle with her own.

Spirituality in Jellicoe Road: We all want to belong within our families, and form valuable connections with our parents, and this is a challenge Taylor encounters in the story. In addition to dealing with the fact that her mother abandoned her on Jellicoe Road, Taylor is navigating the significance of her recurring dream with the boy in the tree, who seems to important. What does it mean for her life, whether it’s her past, present, or future? This aspect in the story got me thinking about the notion of dreams as spiritual. Are our dreams important and how we do figure out what they mean? If you know me at all, you know I find dreams fascinating, so of course I was highly intrigued by this part of the book.

Who Should Read This Book: Whether you are a fan of Marchetta’s high fantasy, such as Finnikin of the Rock or E. Lockhart’s contemporary YA, We Were Liars, I’m pretty sure you will enjoy Jellicoe Road. Marchetta’s beautiful prose reminded me of the gorgeous imagery from Finnikin, while the mystery of the plot and its companion narrative made me think about Lockhart’s text. At first I was pretty confused, trying to figure out the connections between the two different storylines, but it gets easier as you go along, so don’t let this deter you.

The Final Word: This book was published in 2006, and it’s taken me so long to read it! Its unforgettable plot and spiritual dimensions, however, drew me to review it on the blog. I believe it is not to be missed—you just have to be ok with crying. Ok, maybe crying a lot.

Get your box of tissues, and step onto Jellicoe Road as soon as you can.

Have you read Jellicoe Road? What did you think??

What Katie Read

Endings Can Be Beginnings: Counting by 7s (2013) by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Endings Can Be Beginnings: Counting by 7s (2013) by Holly Goldberg SloanCounting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Published by Penguin on August 29th 2013
Genres: Family, Parents, School & Education
Pages: 400
Goodreads

Suggested age range: 9 and up

“And endings are always the beginnings of something else.”

The Book:

This heartwarming story opens with a tragedy, but is surprisingly hopeful and unique throughout the rest of the novel. In the narrative, we meet twelve year-old genius, Willow, who counts by sevens, is a math whiz, and loves making things grow. The story charts Willo’ws journey to discovering a community and a new family. The beauty and wonder of the natural world is celebrated through Willow’s reflective and unique perspective of her surroundings.

Spirituality in Counting by 7s:

Willow’s journey into becoming comfortable with herself, a girl without parents, is one spiritual aspect of the story. I was particularly interested in the way the author revealed Willow’s spirituality though her gardening. The people Willow encounters affect her spiritual identity, and with them she develops community. The way Willow’s community support and love her represents a part of the story I fell in love with—as a reader I was cheering for Willow and the search for her to discover a place in a community that would value her. Her discovery of these people and  of a purpose really made this a strong book for me.

Who Should Read This Book:

This middle grade novel is similar to ones by Kate DiCamillo in that I think it’s a story almost any age would enjoy. Whether you’re twelve or twenty, I think you can appreciate this story and Willow’s journey as she navigates a world without family. Readers may discover some aspects of Willow’s journey to relate to—we are all searching for belonging and identity in some way, and this journey doesn’t stop at a certain age, though it may become easier.

Using this book with young readers? After reading the book, you could give your readers the opportunity to either journal in response to a question such as: What is one thing in your life that makes you feel like you belong?” or draw a picture about something in the book they liked. Arts-based response would be fabulous with this book. Either way, there is a lot of potential for curriculum with upper elementary students, or any age for that matter. Discussion is a must for any activity that you use with your young readers.

The Final Word:

The book is refreshing in the way it’s not predictable and features some surprising turns. That’s one of the reasons why I give this book such a high rating. I leave you with a quote from the book that relates well to that notion:

“What we expect rarely occurs; what we don’t expect is what happens.”

This 2013 story is not to be missed, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book, in spite of my worries about it being too sad initially. Don’t be put off by the potentially tragic premise—Sloan’s novel is brilliant!

 

 

 

What Katie Read
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