The Hid­ing Game

Gwen Strauss; Herb Leon­hard, illus.
  • Review
By – November 20, 2017

The Hid­ing Game by Gwen Strauss | Jew­ish Book Coun­cil

In Octo­ber 1940, Aube and her par­ents find refuge from the Nazis in a vil­la out­side of Paris. There she meets magi­cian Var­i­an Fry and his assis­tant, Dan­ny Bénédite. Even in hid­ing, the group, which includes painter Marc Cha­gall, find ways to enter­tain them­selves with art and music.

Peo­ple come and go as the vil­la serves as a tem­po­rary safe haven. But in Decem­ber, police raid the vil­la and take all the men away. Aube’s father is released a week lat­er, but the group knows they must leave the vil­la for­ev­er. By the time Aube and her par­ents leave in Feb­ru­ary 1941, she holds her own muse­um of draw­ings by famous artists in her bag.

This sto­ry is based on the expe­ri­ences of the author’s great-uncle, the real Dan­ny Bénédite. A back mat­ter sec­tion, The His­to­ry,” explains the true sto­ry and includes sev­er­al cap­tioned pho­tographs. Also includ­ed is an anno­tat­ed list of guests of the vil­la, end­notes, and fur­ther reading.

The text of the main nar­ra­tive offers a chal­leng­ing vocab­u­lary. The illus­tra­tions are superb and cap­ture the won­der of the vil­la and the dan­ger of the times. The book adds sig­nif­i­cant­ly to the canon of Holo­caust books for chil­dren and demon­strates there is good at the same time as evil.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 8 to 10.

Bar­bara Kras­ner is an award-win­ning poet and his­to­ri­an who focus­es her writ­ing on the Jew­ish expe­ri­ence in Amer­i­ca and dur­ing the Holo­caust. She teach­es in the his­to­ry depart­ment of The Col­lege of New Jer­sey and serves as Direc­tor, Mer­cer Holo­caust, Geno­cide & Human Rights Edu­ca­tion Center.

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