Subtitle: The Graphic Novel of the international bestseller, based on a true story
By: Antonio Iturbe
Illustrated by: Loreto Aroca
Genre: FX - Graphic novels
Published by: Pan Macmillan
Published: 10 Jan 2023
ISBN: 9781529088861


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 books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the 'living books' - prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be 'borrowed' to educate the children in the camp. But books are extremely dangerous.

They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children's block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor . . .

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Adapted from the bestselling novel written by Antonio Iturbe, which is based on the true story of Auschwitz prisoner Edita Kraus, this is a wonderful graphic adaptation.

It follows the journey of Edita Kraus, a Jewish girl and voracious reader who lived happily in Prague before war broke out.

With her family, she is transported to the Terezin Ghetto, and eventually on to Auschwitz. Here she meets many people both good and evil, and realising the importance of books Edita becomes the person charged with sharing their meagre supply with the other prisoners.

A lot of hardship was put in front of her, and after her stay at Auschwitz she is moved to Bergen-Belsen just before the British liberated their camp.

Edita was one of the lucky ones - if anyone who survived such inhumanity can be considered lucky - and telling of her story in this format makes it accessible to a new and younger reader.

With themes of war, extreme hardship, death, but also an enduring hope and the importance of stories, this is an ideal graphic novel for all teenagers.

Reviewed by Rob