20 Jun / Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón
Some time in the recent past, a video link came through that began with birthday wishes for Anne Frank, as if she had miraculously survived the Holocaust and lived many fulfilling decades. [I can’t seem to find the link again, so if anyone recognizes the description and has the URL, please do share!] In spite of her too-early death in 1945, that she is quite possibly the best-known 15-year-old in the entire world is quite the legacy she left behind. And how much more would she have achieved had she lived …?
Her diary, originally published in 1947, made the teenaged Anne immortal; from the page, her story spread onto the stage and on film in mega-award-winning adaptations, as well. Most recently, with official approval clearly marked on the cover, Anne’s brief life gets the graphic treatment from comic veterans Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón, who previously transformed a long government commission report into major bestseller, The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation.
Anne’s story, of course, remains familiar – her German birth, her family’s escape to Amsterdam, her precocious childhood, her dichotomous relationship with her parents, her quickly constricting life in wartime, the two years in the secret annex, her first kiss, her capture, and horrific death just weeks before liberation. Interwoven are glimpses of her extended family’s lives, as well as important historical ‘snapshots’ that further underline the enormity of the tragedy Anne endures. The final chapter, aptly titled “The Story Lives On,” follows Anne’s legacy beyond her murder at Bergen-Belsen, while the book’s final pages offer a detailed, color-coded (red for overall history, black for personal) chronology from 1925 (the year Anne’s parents married) to her father Otto’s death in 1980, followed by “Suggestions for Further Reading.”
The resulting comprehensive, enlightening package is an ideal introduction to Anne’s courage, especially for reluctant readers; that said, this remains a difficult, challenging read as the experiences of cruelty and violence are never elided. I might quibble for two seconds and mention that a few of the hemlines seemed surprisingly short for the 1930s and 1940s, that furnishings occasionally seemed anachronistically contemporary, and that pictures of cakes and cookies sometimes felt misplaced. But such possible minor transgressions prove dismissable against the enormity of the Anne Frank legacy. As the young girl matures across the pages, again the ultimate, bittersweet reaction is to ponder the immeasurable, ‘what-if’ potential stolen from such a determined, inspiring young life.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult