Review: The Librarian of Auschwitz

Posted November 27, 2023 by Richetta in Book Reviews, CYBILS Awards Nominee, Graphic Novel / 0 Comments

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Review: The Librarian of AuschwitzThe Librarian of Auschwitz: The Graphic Novel by Antonio Iturbe
Published by Henry Holt and Company (BYR) on January 3, 2023
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Books & Libraries, Juvenile Fiction / Comics & Graphic Novels / Historical, Juvenile Fiction / Historical / Holocaust
Pages: 144
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this graphic novel tells the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

book cover of the Librarian of Auschwitz

The graphic novel The Librarian of Auschwitz by Salva Rubio and illustrated by Loreto Aroca was adapted from the original novel by Antonio Iturbe. As a reader of only the graphic novel version, I can’t make any comparisons. However, I thought the story was well-told and appropriate for the age level it targets in graphic novel format.

The Librarian of Auschwitz is based on the real-life experiences of Dita Kraus, the 14-year old librarian of Auschwitz. The story is told from her point of view as she survives Auschwitz and the horrors of war. Dita is an avid reader and lover of books. When she is transferred from the Terezín ghetto to the family camp in Auschwitz she becomes the caretaker of the camp’s precious eight books.

Family Camp

Of the many portrayals of Auschwitz and the stories I’ve read, I’ve never encountered one about the family camp. A place used to perpetuate propaganda by the nazis that would cover up the evil they were doing. Despite the horrors she encounters and the danger she is constantly in, Dita takes her job as librarian seriously. She is the caretaker and organizer of both books and “living books.” She even gets to help the children put on a play.

The Librarian of Auschwitz holds onto hope and courage despite the devastation that Dita lives through. Her seriousness about her job and her perseverance as she survives the camp are admirable and heart wrenching.

Color and Illustrations

The illustrations are dynamic. The dark and muted colors that are used throughout most of the book contrast with the warmer and brighter panels that are connected to Dita when she was still at home with her family. Red is used throughout to signify immediate danger and or extreme fear.

Further Research

The Epilogue information is very interesting. It helps provide additional information for some of the mysteries like those surrounding camp leader, Freddy Hirsch. A perfect book for anyone interested in learning about history.

This book is a CYBILS Awards nominee. My review reflects my personal opinions and not the opinion of the CYBILS graphic novels panel.

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