Saturday, March 26, 2011

Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography

Jacobson, S. & Colon, E. (2010). Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Beginning with the meeting of Anne's parents in the 1920s, this graphic novel spans the life of Anne Frank and her family far before they were in their secret annex and long after she was killed. It tells of the Frank family's comfortable beginnings in Germany and all they had to sacrifice in order to avoid detection by the Nazis. They first moved to the Netherlands, but when the Nazis invaded, the Franks were forced to follow new ordinances, Anne's father, Otto, had to transfer ownership of his company to his employees and Anne was forced to attend a Jewish school. Otto and his wife Edith had already been planning for the Frank family to go into hiding in an annex located in his company's building, but when Margot, Anne's older sister, received a call-up to report to the SS, their family moved up their plans. Another family was invited to live in the secret annex along with the Franks, they were the Van Pelses and had a son named Peter. Later the families invited one more friend into the annex, Fritz Pfeffer. The families were aided by Otto's employees, Miep Gies, Jan Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, and Bep Voskuijl in bringing them food and keeping them hidden. Life in the annex was hard, Anne had a difficult time being civil with her mother and her roommate, Mr. Pfeffer. Her writings during this time were incredibly introspective and wise beyond her years. In 1944, two years after the family had moved into the annex, the family was discovered and taken to Westerbork, a transit camp for Jews, from there they were taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and finally Anne and Margot were taken to Bergen-Belsen, where they both died of typhus, which they had contracted through the horrible conditions in which they were forced to live. In 1945 Otto was freed from Auschwitz by the Russians and was devastated to hear the news that his family had not made it. The biography closes with Otto being given Anne's diary and him publishing it so that Anne's dream of being a writer could be realized and so the horrors of what the Frank family and other Jews were forced to endure would be published.

This is an incredible graphic novel, I have recommended this book to everyone I know. The authors took Anne Frank's incredible diary and provided a wonderful back story into the Frank family and Anne herself and provided the story of what Anne and her family endured beyond their secret annex. In addition, the authors provide "snapshots" of what was going on with the Nazis and the rest of the world alongside with what the Frank family was doing at that time. It helped to provide a clearer picture of the conditions the family was forced to live through before entering the annex. This book provides more of Anne's thoughts, which were withheld by her father in her published diary. Anne was a teenager and was having a rough time with getting along with her mother, the book details a lot of this and her deep insights on war and what their friends were going through outside of the annex. The illustrations are wonderful, and yet frightening at times because of the horrors of the concentration camps. Many of the drawings were taken directly from photographs, which are shown at the end of the book.

nonfiction, biography, graphic novel

Reading Level:
Ages 10 and up

the Holocaust, World War II

Anne Frank: received a diary on her 13th birthday; moved into the secret annex soon after and documented all the details of her family's life there and her feelings and insights about the war; died at Bergen-Belsen from typhus
Otto Frank: Anne's father; survived the Holocaust; published Anne's diary
Edith Frank: Anne's mother; died in concentration camp
Margot Frank: Anne's older sister; died of typhus with Anne at Bergen-Belsen
The Van Pelses: Husband, wife, and teenage son, Peter who lived with the Frank's in the annex; Anne's first kiss was with Peter in the annex
Fritz Pfeffer: dentist; shared a room with Anne in the annex
Miep Gies, Jan Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, and Bep Voskuijl: employees of Otto Frank's; aided the Frank family in remaining hidden in the secret annex

Through her diary, Anne Frank documented with incredible detail the secret life her family was forced to live in order to stay together and safe from the Nazis. This graphic novel tells of the Frank family's life before, during, and after their two years spent in their secret annex.

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