The Librarian of Auschwitz

Holt. Jan. 2023. 144p. adapted by adapted by Salva Rubio. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781250842992. $14.99. ISBN 9781250842985.
Gr 9 Up–Based on Iturbe’s novelization of Dita Kraus’s experiences during World War II, this graphic novel details Kraus’s early life in Czechoslovakia, her love of reading, and the unusual existence of a family camp and classroom (of sorts) for children within Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Kraus and her family arrived in 1942. The first half of the book also establishes the teen’s precarious responsibility as keeper of the camp’s eight prized but forbidden volumes, and the threats, terror, and trauma of life in the camp where hundreds were sent to the gas chambers daily. Dialogue bubbles and text boxes, along with striking, purely visual panel sequences and full-page images, advance the story. The second half of the book moves at a quicker pace, reducing some events to cursory (and potentially confusing) treatment. The illustrated epilogue, which offers additional information about Adolf Hitler’s objectives and a few of the individuals featured in the book, will help answer some questions readers may have. Sepia tones that evoke the era dominate the opening pages, while scenes in shadowy blue gray emphasize the dangerous, clandestine nature of much of the activity at the camp. Red enters as the background color when Nazi soldiers appear or pure panic sets in. Included is an image of a mass grave, and others of naked prisoners being led to the gas chambers.
VERDICT Along with memoirs or nonfiction histories, this book may serve Holocaust units, and discussions about the history of restricting access to books, especially where differentiated materials are needed.

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