Good-bye Mar­i­anne

Irene N. Watts; Kathryn E. Shoe­mak­er, illus.
  • Review
By – January 16, 2012
The pub­lish­er should be com­mend­ed for tak­ing the chance of turn­ing Irene Watts’ orig­i­nal nov­el into this pow­er­ful graph­ic nov­el for­mat. Mar­i­anne is a con­tent eleven-year-old girl. An only child, she is hap­py with­in her fam­i­ly, secure in their love, in her home, her room, her school… Then every­thing begins to change, unpleas­ant changes for Jews to be sure, but brought to a cli­max one night, the 1938 Pogrom known as the Night of Bro­ken Glass. Jew­ish stores are smashed, their own­ers impris­oned and beat­en. She is shut out of school; out of parks; and by her for­mer, but now Aryan, friends. Her father dis­ap­pears, hid­den in Berlin by var­i­ous friends. He must run from hid­ing place to hid­ing place. Marianne’s moth­er, no longer able to keep her daugh­ter safe, avails her­self of an oppor­tu­ni­ty to place her on the Kinder­trans­port in a place vacat­ed by a sick child in the orphan­age where she works. The book con­cludes with their leave-tak­ing and Marianne’s trip to safe­ty in Eng­land. She must also take care of a very lit­tle girl placed in her care at the train by a dis­traught moth­er. While the orig­i­nal book with a ful­ly fleshed-out sto­ry was excel­lent, this pared-down ver­sion is quite impres­sive. The low-key but expres­sive pen­cil and char­coal illus­tra­tions and the bal­loon-enclosed text com­mu­ni­cate the fear and sad­ness that Mar­i­anne expe­ri­ences. It is a melan­choly ele­gy in which the young read­er is enticed to absorb the emo­tion con­veyed. Instead of telling the sto­ry, it shows it. For ages 9 – 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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