Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust is a suitable introduction for grades 2-4 to this terrible chapter in history.

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier, art by Marc Lizano. First Second, 2014, 80 pages.

Reading Level: Graphic Novel, ages 8-10

Recommended for: ages 7-10

Young Dounia is so naïve that when her father tells her the yellow star she must wear is a sheriff’s badge, she’s proud and happy. Soon enough she realizes it’s no badge of honor. The streets of Paris are turning ugly, with Jewish shopkeepers beaten, her father fired from his job, and stores closed. When her best friend turns against her she doesn’t understand—until she and other Jewish children are forbidden to go to school. Even that’s not so bad: more time with her parents.

Then comes the terrible night when German soldiers pound on the door. Her parents hide Dounia in a secret compartment in the wardrobe with warnings not to make a sound. Then they disappear, and Dounia is alone in the darkness until a neighbor comes to rescue her.

Dounia, now a grandmother, tells this story to her young granddaughter Elsa, when the little girl hears her crying in the night. It’s the first time Grandma has told anyone, including her own son. We see the story through the perspective of an 8-year-old who doesn’t fully understand, so the effect is softened. Two scenes communicate something of the horror, though: Dounia in the darkness of the wardrobe, and a few years later when her mother is rescued from the concentration camp. We see Mama as her little girl must have seen her: a stark, staring woman in striped prison clothes, whose shaved head and facial expression reflects something of her experience.

Dounia survives through the heroic efforts of the Resistance and the simple kindness of rural Frenchmen. The story is told through childlike figures whose huge heads resemble Peanuts characters—almost too exaggerated, but it works for this age group. The Holocaust is a story we all need to know and remember, and Hidden is an effective introduction for young children.

Consideration:

  • Early in the book, Dounia is told of a Jewish boy she knows, whose teacher exposed his circumcision to the whole class: “He had explained to the class that Jews had a piece of wee-wee missing.” This will need to be explained to small kids.

Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5
  • Artistic/literary value: 4.5

Read more about our ratings here.

Also at Redeemed Reader:

  • Reviews: White Bird is another story of the German Occupation of France and the work of the Resistance in hiding Jews. Also see our review of Village of Scoundrels, a fictionalized story of the actual village of Les Lauzes, which successfully concealed hundreds of Jews from the Nazis. And we haven’t reviewed it, but Masters of Silence is a middle-grade novel of two French children escaping the Holocaust with the help of Marcel Marceau, a resistance fighter who later became the world’s most famous mime.
  • Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is another Holocaust story told from a child’s perspective.

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Janie Cheaney

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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