Hid­den: A Child’s Sto­ry of the Holocaust

Loic Dauvil­lierl Marc Lizano, illus.; Greg Salse­do, col­orist; Alex­is Siegel, trans.
  • Review
May 28, 2014

How do you explain the Holo­caust to a child, and at what age is any expla­na­tion appro­pri­ate? These are ques­tions long debat­ed, and there will prob­a­bly nev­er be agree­ment on the answers. Hid­den, a short, graph­ic nov­el, is pitched to the grade school audi­ence, and for those who’ve decid­ed their child should be intro­duced to this dark peri­od of his­to­ry, this book is a very good place to start. The book opens late one night with a lit­tle girl hap­pen­ing upon her grand­moth­er, Dou­nia, who is inex­plic­a­bly cry­ing. The lit­tle girl advis­es her to talk about it — that’s what she does when she has a night­mare — and so begins the grandmother’s rec­ol­lec­tions of her life in France as a child dur­ing the Ger­man occu­pa­tion. The author and artist manage

to cov­er an extreme­ly dif­fi­cult sub­ject with real sen­si­tiv­i­ty, nei­ther gloss­ing nor mak­ing it too dif­fi­cult for a grade-school­er to un- der­stand. For exam­ple, in order not to scare her, Dounia’s father tells her that the Jew­ish stars the fam­i­ly must wear now are sheriff’s stars (a notion she is excit­ed by, then quick­ly dis­abused of by a sim­i­lar­ly-sit­u­at­ed school pal). The nar­ra­tive con­tin­ues on through the end of the war, when Dou­nia, who has been hid­den by qui­et­ly hero­ic neigh­bors, is reunit­ed with her moth­er (unhap­pi­ly, her father does not sur­vive). The end­ing — which returns to present times — seems not as care­ful­ly craft­ed as the rest of the book, but over­all, Hid­den is a poignant and pow­er­ful sto­ry, a sort of Maus for the younger set.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 7 – 10.

Discussion Questions