Anne Frank: Her Life

Mar­i­an Hoefnagel
  • Review
By – June 30, 2014

How many times have you said: What? Anoth­er Anne Frank book! Enough, already!” But please make room for this one. It is writ­ten for either slow­er-read­ing sixth graders or bright young read­ers — pos­si­bly even fourth-graders — who want to read a book about Anne Frank. The Frank fam­i­ly is well-off, the father in bank­ing, but Hitler and the Third Reich soon put an end to that as well as their safe­ty, and so the fam­i­ly, includ­ing old­er sis­ter Mar­got who is sev­en, decamps for Hol­land where she will attend school. Anne Frank is a pre-school­er of three and stays behind in Ger­many with her grand­moth­er before even­tu­al­ly join­ing the rest of the fam­i­ly. The entre­pre­neur­ial Otto Frank soon starts a new busi­ness that flour­ish­es until the Nazis invade neu­tral Hol­land. Otto decides not to flee, but to hide and so a hid­ing place is pre­pared and the fam­i­ly main­tained by employ­ees. At that point, read­ers can fol­low Anne’s day-to-day life, and how she con­fides in Kit­ty,” her diary and best friend in which she writes her obser­va­tions and feel­ings about every­one and every­thing. These include her annoy­ances, but also her grow­ing affec­tion for Peter, the oth­er teenag­er in hid­ing with his fam­i­ly. When the fam­i­ly is betrayed and their hid­ing place revealed, and the fam­i­ly deport­ed to West­er­bork, Anne enjoys being released from the con­fine­ment of the attic. Sad­ly, it is only a pre­lude to Bergen-Belsen. The cat­tle car train car ride is described, as is the Bergen- Belsen camp expe­ri­ence includ­ing the sis­ters’ hor­ri­ble deaths from typhoid. One of more than a dozen pho­tos shows the weak­ness of the camp pop­u­la­tion as they were lying list­less­ly on the floor after lib­er­a­tion, but it does not show skele­tal for­mer pris­on­ers. The lan­guage is sim­ple and direct, and sup­port­ed by quotes from the orig­i­nal diary and many pho­tographs. While a third-grad­er might not catch on to teenag­er Anne’s grow­ing love for Peter, in the cur­rent media age, they very well might. There is an after­word, and a glos­sary with clear expla­na­tions. The print and spac­ing between lines are more ample than usu­al for a book on this sub­ject. This book is pub­lished in coop­er­a­tion with the Anne Frank Foun­da­tion and is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for read­ers from 8 – 12.

Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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