There are many biographies of Anne Frank geared to young readers. This new graphic novel stands out for its to-the-point-clarity and its avoidance of sentimentality, even as it emphasizes Anne’s positive attitude and optimistic views. The story is told movingly; Anne is presented heroically; and the progression of the historical events surrounding the Franks is told with just the appropriate amount of drama, allowing the personalities to shine. A sincere appreciation for those who helped the family during their time in hiding is a significant part of what this book conveys.
Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos have perfectly integrated the art and text, creating an effective portrait of a family and an era. The text employs both narration and speech bubbles, and excellent judgment is shown as to which is most effective scene by scene. Facial expression and background detail enhance the text. Of particular note is the drawing of the Secret Annex, which evokes the crowding and claustrophobia inherent in the scene. The important elements of the diary are all included; while a graphic novel doesn’t replace a close reading of the diary itself, this one serves as an excellent introduction and may pique curiosity and a desire to learn more.
I Am Anne Frank is part of Meltzer’s extensive series Ordinary People Change the World, which tells in graphic form the stories of many notable figures of interest to children. This one is an essential addition to the series. Anne becomes an accessible role model for her sparkling personality and fine character, and there is also a fitting emphasis on the legacy of hope she left behind. A short epilogue is included as part of the artistic whole and includes a touching picture of children reading and learning about Anne Frank and absorbing the lessons she had to teach.
The author includes a timeline and a suggested reading list, which provide context and additional information.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.