Graphic novels are becoming increasingly popular as a method of getting reluctant readers interested in books. However, sometimes as genres increase in popularity, it becomes more difficult to find books from them that are of value. But Hidden written by Loïc Dauvillier and illustrated by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo is a beautifully written and illustrated historical fiction graphic novel. Originally published in French in 2012, the American edition that was published in 2014 makes the story accessible to a wider audience.
Hidden is told mostly through flashback – when a young girl finds her grandmother sad in the middle of the night, she asks her to explain why she’s upset. Her grandmother, Dounia, tells her the story of when she was a young Jewish girl living in France during the Holocaust. She lived a pretty normal life, until her family was forced to begin wearing Stars of David on their clothing and people began discriminating against them. Eventually, Dounia’s parents were taken away, and she moved in with her neighbors, the Péricards. When they were warned that the police were still looking for Dounia, she and her female neighbor (“Mama”) escaped to a farm to live with a woman named Germaine. By telling her granddaughter Elsa this story, Dounia becomes closer to her, as well as to Elsa’s father, who never heard the story growing up.
The illustrations convey many of the time period’s dark elements without being too disturbing or upsetting for children. They will be able to understand some of the hardships Jews during the Holocaust endured (the image of Dounia’s emaciated mother is particularly memorable) without being exposed to pictures that will scare them. This story is also more appropriate for children than other stories about the Holocaust because it emphasizes the moments of hope Dounia experienced despite her struggles, which were due to the many people who helped her survive. They risked their own lives in order to protect her from the police, and Mr. Péricard even joined the French Resistance against Nazis.
Although this is a fictional story, the author’s note points out that because of people like Germaine and the Péricards, 84% of Jewish children in France were saved during the Holocaust. By emphasizing this hopeful element of this horrific time period, Dauvillier has ensured that children will be able to embrace and learn from this story. Hidden is a thoughtful, original tale that will help introduce children to this important historical time period in a meaningful way.