The Book of Secrets is a graphic novel that tells the story of Jewish siblings Ben and Rose whose missing Bubbe and Grandpa leave them a mysterious book. They start reading the book, each chapter telling them a different story from traditional Jewish folklore. As they read more of the stories, the characters seem to come to life, helping them unravel the mysteries of the Book of Secrets — and where their grandparents could be.
The Book of Secrets tells multiple stories simultaneously, working each fable into the larger narrative. Each story teaches Ben and Rose an important lesson; in the story of King Solomon, the moral is that even wise grown-ups can be sometimes be wrong; the story of Og reminds them of the importance of working together to achieve a goal; the Lamplighter’s story educates them about why life needs to encompass both light and darkness.
The artwork consists of darker shades of bright colors, as if to say that, while this is a fun children’s story, it carries some important themes. The style, particularly the design of the titular book, bears resemblance to the popular Disney show Gravity Falls. The character illustrations, especially that of the Doughlem (the Dough Golem), invite audiences of all ages to enjoy the pictures which, along with the narrative, convey the stories creatively.
The Book of Secrets is highly recommended and a great way to teach middle graders about Jewish culture. It blends legend with contemporary fantasy, starring young children as the heroes. This graphic book celebrates Jewish heritage with each story it tells, and encourages its readers to do the same.
Richard C. Kraus is a student at Sarah Lawrence College where he studies writing, film and theatre and serves on the board of his college’s Hillel. A fan of television, film, comic books and pop-culture, he writes for www.whatculture.com.