Saturday, February 20, 2021

I Survived the Nazi Invasion: The Graphic Novel

Tarshis, Lauren and Sarraseca, Ivaro (Illustrations)
I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944 (I Survived Graphic Novels #3)
February 2nd 2021 by Graphix
E ARC provided by Edelweiss 

Max and Zena are surviving in Poland the best they can after their father is imprisoned by the Nazis. When Max tries to reach out of the ghetto for some berries, he ends up in the hands of the Nazis, but he and Zena manage to escape and run deep into the woods. With the help of a farmer who hides them in his barn, they manage to find their aunt Hannah, who is working for the Resistance. After several close escapes fighting the Nazis, the Russians come into Poland and the two children are reunited with their father and later immigrate to the US. 
Strengths: The plot of this is exactly the same as the novel; the synopsis above is from my review of the February 2014 original. The benefits of having pictures means that readers who don't have a background in this period of history can envision more accurately what Poland during WWII looked like. Sarraseca has done his research, and the clothing, buildings, and general palette give a good sense of the desperation of the time. While it is a harrowing story, it is ultimately a hopeful one, since Max and Zena do get reunited with their family. 
Weaknesses: I'm not an expert in what bomb explosions look like at close range, but some of them didn't seem realistic. When I saw some of the pictures, they made me think that everyone in the frame with the explosion would surely have died. Very dramatic, certainly!
What I really think: This is really not for very young readers. Tarshis has a nice note at the end about how it's hard to write about this time period without going in to some level of atrocity, and this does have a shooting to the death, injuries due to shootings, and lots of bombing. For middle school, this is a great choice, although the originals are so short that the graphic novels hardly seem necessary. They'll be hugely popular with my readers. 

This made me think of the original cover of Russell Freedman's We Will Not Be Silent, which I swear had blue jeans and tennis shoes on the legs. Can't find a picture anywhere of that! Max's short pants and Zena's skirts will be completely foreign to modern readers!

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