Many Anne Franks

That’s my 7th grade diary given to me in 1964 by my grandmother along with a copy of Anne Frank’s diary right before we left for a year in Germany.  When we visited the recently-opened Anne Frank House a few months later I realized that my diary was just like Anne’s.  Presumably my grandmother bought it in Frankfurt (before she and my father fled in 1936) and then gave it to me years later.  I was almost twelve when I first read Anne’s diary ; it had a profound impression on me and so I’ve been always interested in related books.  As survivors die off (say my father two years ago), we grapple with how best to honor Anne and all who suffered because of the Holocaust.  I’m particularly interested in those about Anne, say:

  • Francine Prose’s excellent Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife. (This book is for adults, but is simply superb. Prose shows what a literary gem the diary is.)
  • The Anne Frank House’s engrossing Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures. (Love this one. Does a fantastic job of putting the story into context with primary sources.)
  • Sharon Dogar’s forthcoming fictional imagining of Peter van Pels’ diary, Annexed. (Still processing my feelings about this one.)

And the latest, a graphic novel version of the diary coming from the Anne Frank House.  Having read their two previous graphic novels, The Search and A Family Secret, I’m a bit dubious.  I requested them from their American publisher (thank you, Macmillan) after reading about them, but I found the writing unfortunately mediocre and so I’m extremely wary of this forthcoming graphic novel of the diary.  They (just as does Sharon Dogar) are looking for hooks to bring young people to the diary itself.  Very laudable, but I guess I’m still for giving them the real thing.

9 Comments

Filed under graphic novel, Holocaust

9 responses to “Many Anne Franks

  1. Have you seen the Edu Manga of Anne Frank? With Astro Boy?

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  2. Just took a look at it on amazon. Yikes!

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  3. I really appreciate your honesty here. I too was disappointed in the graphic novels and SO impressed by Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures. On Goodreads I wondered whether a book with such HISTORY-ISH images (black and white photos! unfamiliar fashions!) would resonate with girls today. Well, I needn’t have worried. My eight-year-old, who hasn’t read the Diary yet (tho Number the Stars is one of her 10 favorite books) picked the book up off my desk and DEVOURED it. I think the small, square shape and the cover image were enticing to her. She wants to read the Diary itself now — I didn’t read it till I was 11, and part of me wants to wait to give it to her and part of me thinks, well, she understood Number the Stars… Then again, the little girls don’t DIE in Number the Stars. (Oops, spoiler.) Ack, dunno. What do you think?

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  4. Marjorie, I think she should read the diary; after all she knows the story now and presumably that Anne dies. But the book is so wonderful as a piece of literature. I can’t see a problem with it.

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  5. Monica, why do you assume that any of these books are “looking for hooks to bring young people to the diary itself?” I don’t think getting kids to read Anne’s diary is all that difficult, and Dogar’s book (I haven’t read the graphic novels you describe) has its own integrity as a novel (and I think it will be most appreciated by readers who already know the Diary).

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  6. Roger, thanks for pointing this out. My impression was that some of these new works were intended to get kids who might otherwise bypass to indeed read the diary. But I just checked the news articles regarding the gn and it seems the Anne Frank House is doing it for kids who won’t otherwise read the diary. As for Dogar I thought I saw somewhere (back when I got the ARC I remember looking at her website, but can’t find it anymore) that one hope she had was that her book would encourage kids to go and read the original diary.

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  7. Monica,

    I’ve just finished reading this post, including links to your earlier posts on Anne Frank, and am glad to be joining such an important conversation. Over the past few months, I’ve been gathering resources for teaching about Anne Frank, but always with the question you raised: At what age is it appropriate to teach abut the Holocaust?

    I believe I’ve shared with you before that my district’s adopted, mandated English/language arts anthology has a story about Anne Frank in the 4th grade text – within the theme of survival…interesting.

    It was through my self-selected reading of the Diary of Anne Frank as a 7th grader, that I was introduced to the edge of the Holocaust. I did not enter a camp through literature, lecture, or in real-time until college (if it was taught in my high school, it must have been reductively, as in the Holocaust being a 4-year piece of the WWII story).

    I have noticed that today, in many middle schools, Eli Wiesel’s Night is now included on reading lists, often with the idea that Anne’s story has more appeal to girls; Night will be more appealing to boys. And I wonder how many middle schoolers forever turn away from learning more about the Holocaust because they were given material they simply were not ready for.

    I followed your link to Toten’s excellent article, Should There be Holocaust Education for K-4 students? The Answer is No. I noticed a reference to Karen Shawn’s work on Holocaust education. I had the good fortune recently to spend a morning with Karen. She brought to my reading-writing-teaching-the Holocaust toolkit a common sense approach to the pedagogy of the Holocaust. Typically, when school districts create grade-level reading lists, it’s with the idea that all students in 6th grade, for instance, will read Anne Frank, or all students in 9th grade will read Night. Karen highly recommends an opt-out option for some or all of a novel. Such an easy policy to tweak!

    Karen started her session by giving each of us sticky notes for adding to a comment wall, a piece of colored glass to illuminate important points, and – brilliantly – an eraser, which we could use to erase points/ideas/facts presented in a piece we preferred to remove from our memories.

    I really liked her analogy with teaching the Holocaust to teaching a child to stay clear of a stove. While some might go with the “let them touch it and quickly feel the pain” vs. “provide a protective area around the stove and remove when appropriate.” Good chance those students who’ve been scorched by their exposure to the Holocaust will want nothing more to do with it, while the later group will be ready to continue learning about the events and ramifications surrounding 12 years of the Holocaust.

    Due to an incredibly busy schedule, which I know you understand, it’s been a while since my last visit to your blog.
    Thank you for the book recommendations, which I will pass on to colleagues. I’ll be back soon and regularly.

    I very much value your insights – and those of your readers, too.

    Gail

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  8. Kayla Bergsma

    Do you know where I could find one like this?💖

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