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.