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Arts and Culture

The Children's Bookshelf: I Survived: The Nazi Invasion, 1944; 6-21

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I Survived The Nazi Invasion, 1944 written by Lauren Tarshis, adapted by Georgia Ball with art by Alvaro Sarraseca is a masterly-done graphic novel of this powerful story from the I Survived Series.

Siblings Max and Zena are forced to move with their family into a ghetto in Poland as the Nazis take over the country. Aunt Hannah had warned them to get out before it was too late, but they didn’t. First their mother was taken away and then their father. This left the kids all alone and starving. When Max tries to pick some raspberries off a bush on the other side of the ghetto’s fence, he is caught! Max and Zena decide to make a run for it! They hide in a nearby wheat field until they are rescued by members of the Partisan resistance, including Aunt Hannah, who have just bombed a Nazi train carrying ammunition, guns and tanks.

The story is well told as the adapter and illustrator work together to bring the author’s story alive in this graphic novel. Some of the most striking visual experiences include two pages depicting the story of David and Goliath drenched in shades of gold. Also, there are pictures showing a Nazi soldier who doesn’t look much older than Max himself. A split screen spread pictures the left side of Max’s face and the right side of the German soldier’s face setting up a human truth about war that Max says about his enemy----- “There’s no hatred in his eyes. He is just as scared and confused as I am.”

I Survived The Nazi Invasion, 1944 is a responsible and dramatic telling of this story including a very useful timeline for readers 9-12 years of age. Please note, some scenes contain violence (Graphix/ an imprint of Scholastic, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the activity questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.   

Activity Questions for I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944

Have you ever read a graphic novel before? Do you like this format? Perhaps it would be interesting to read this story in its original format (which was a novel in the I Survived Series) and compare the differences.

Go through the book again and select two spreads (pictures) that you especially like and why. Study them and give them each a name that fits the circumstances of the story. How would you describe this graphic novel to a friend?

Be sure to read through the timeline found in the back material. What is the single most interesting fact that you learned there? Draw a picture, graphic novel style, of that fact.