Cover Image: The Librarian of Auschwitz: The Graphic Novel

The Librarian of Auschwitz: The Graphic Novel

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I feel I have to preface this review by saying I don't like WW2 or holocaust books; I find them depressing. I read this book as part of an effort to expand my horizons a little bit and because I DO love graphic novels. As such, it is not my favorite book (mostly it confirmed that I do, indeed, still find holocaust books depressing) but it seems a decently done book that I can see a market for.

Our main character is Dita, short for Edita Adelrova`
She is a 14 year who loves to read, during World War 2. This book traces her story from thriving in Prague to her time in Auschwitz; she was one of the few who survived, so you could say her story has a happy ending, but the book is not, over all, a feel good story.
In Auschwitz, she is given the job of librarian - she maintains and manages a small library of about 8 books, and eventually "living books" - people who can tell stories. She uses them to help bouy up the spirits of those imprisoned in her camp. Books were banned and carried a death sentance, so keeping them out of sight of their guards was paramount, and there are several tense moments through the book.

There isn't really a way to show Auschwitz without showing the horror and brutality found there, but this book is not gory or gross. But there are dead bodies, and naked bodies, when prisoners are forced to disrobe and wait in line to be killed or chosen for labor, or be cleaned. Guards beat prisoners, "on screen" so to say.

The story takes place in Camp Biib, a little facade/experiment that was propped up in case of outside inspection, where it appeared that prisoners were treated somewhat humanely - they were not shaved, kept their clothes, and were able to stay with family, basically, but death rates were still high due to many factors. This is an aspect of Auschwitz I didn't know about - but the facade eventually ends.

In terms of tone... you know how a common piece of advice for writers is to "show, don't tell?" There feels like a lot of telling. A lot of skimming, overview, cover a lot of ground without details - which makes sense when you find out that this adapts a 400 page biography down to 120 page graphic novel for kids. It's not my favorite style, but it also adds a layer of distance between the reader and the story that helps insulate from the horror.

Any reader who enjoys WW2 or Holocaust stories will enjoy this book, as will any reader who prefers reading about real people. I wouldn't recommend it to any random kid, though, as Auschwitz isn't easy. Probably I would go 10 at the youngest.

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The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe is a graphic novel about Dita Adler, a Jewish teenager in Czechoslovakia during World War II. She ultimately survived the WWII concentration camp Auschwitz with her love of books, stories, and imagination as a strength to her.

Upon arrival at the camp, Dita and her family were surprised when their hair was not shorn and they were allowed to remain together. In this section of the camp (called BIIb), Dita (who speaks and reads multiple languages) was appointed to hide and care for a few clandestine books in German and Czech. She also helped teach and care for children in a children’s block set up within this section of the camp. Despite the unique setup of this camp, half the prisoners died within 6 months of arriving at BIIb.

When Red Cross volunteers visited the camp, the purpose of their special treatment was clear: it was set up as a propaganda camp. Once this Red Cross visit was complete, BIIb residents stopped receiving special treatment, and many were killed after all.

As victory for the Allies neared, Dita was transferred again and again to new camps. Although she had to leave her treasured books behind, her imagination and memory of the books kept her strong until her release at the end of the war. Her older sister managed to survive the war as well, though they had lost her mother and father to death. After the war, she rediscovers Ota Krauss, who had helped her hide the books when they suffered together in BIIb. Her true story ends on a positive note as she begins a new life with Ota.

Dita’s story is a unique coming-of-age story. Her strength in the midst of trying circumstances was inspiring, and her different situations in a propaganda camp in Auschwitz taught me a new aspect of the war I hadn’t been familiar with. Even with an educational program for children and families remaining together, the sad part is that the fate of these people was similar to others’ fates. Camp BIIb lasted just a few months (from September 1943 to May 1944) and those selected for the camp did not have a reprieve from hunger, disease, and the cold. Of the 17,000 in this propaganda camp, only about 1,300 survived the war. The hope is that by remaining together, reading books, entertaining each other, and educating children may have helped them remain strong until their end.

Although Dita’s story was based on true events and Dita is a woman who is still alive, The Librarian of Auschwitz was first a novel for adults, originally written in Spanish. This graphic novel version, adapted for children, was originally published in Spanish as well. (The graphic novel will be published in the US by Godwin in January 2023.) Due to the subject matter, which includes scenes of violence, dead bodies, and brief but tactful nudity on occasion, I’d recommend The Librarian of Auschwitz graphic novel for children 12+ only. I classify it as fiction (despite the true parts) because that is the designation the original author gave it. I do not agree that it would be appropriate for ages 8-12, as Amazon indicates.

Note: I received a digital review copy of this book for review consideration.

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From the very beginning, Dita is a brave, strong character. Her love for books runs from the first page to the last. She cares not only for the books during her time at Auschwitz, but also for her mother and her friends.

The illustrations in the book really bring the story to life. Several scenes got me all teared up. It was easy to feel Dita’s anguish over the death of her father and her friend. I also had chills as she acted quickly to hide books from Nazi soldiers during an inspection, an act that saved everyone in her block.

After the story finishes, there are some sections that explain more of the history and give facts about some of the important characters. I enjoyed reading that as well.

All in all, this is an incredibly inspiring story that makes me want to know more about Dita Kraus and her life. I noticed on Amazon that there’s an autobiography of her life, so I’ll probably pick that up and add it to my reading list, too.

Review will be live on 1/6/23

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"The Librarian of Auschwitz" is a graphic novel adaption of the book by the same name. The graphic novel shortens the story by a couple hundred pages into a graphic novel format easier to read by a younger audience. It tells the story of Dita who is a Jew living in Germany during the Holocaust. It talks about the challenges she faced during this time. Recommended for grades 7-10

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The Librarian of Auschwitz is a moving graphic novel, based on the novel by Antonio Iturbe of the same name. The novel shares the experiences of Edita Polachova Kraus, who survived the Holocaust and being sent to Auschwitz, as well as other Nazi concentration camps.

Dita is a young girl when the Nazis march into Czechoslovakia and begin to limit the lives of Jewish citizens. She loves books, so much that her mother and father struggle to keep her in books! When her family is loaded onto a train and sent to Auschwitz, she wants to pack an entire suitcase of books to take with her. Instead, her mother makes her pack practical things.

At Auschwitz, her camp is treated differently than others. They get to stay with their families, keep their own clothes, and aren't shaved, like people in other camps at Auschwitz. But they can see other camps and see how others are suffering. But they, too, must work long hours and are in danger of being beaten or killed at any moment, just because a kapo or officer feels like it.

When one of the Jewish leaders finds out Dita loves books, he makes her the camp librarian. There are very few books available, but Dita makes sure to circulate them secretly to the people in the camp. They also have "living book" times, when the elders tell stories to anyone who will listen.

Telling this story in a condensed way, with pictures, will make it much more compelling for teens. The impact of the horrors Dita lived through aren't lessened by this treatment, and the story overall is one of hope that will resonate with readers.

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this wonderful novel.

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** “Dita understood that she’d have to be brave to survive.” **

“The Librarian of Auschwitz: The Graphic Novel,” adapted by Salva Rubio and based on the novel by Antonio Iturbe, tells the story of Dita Kraus, the real-life librarian of Auschwitz, in graphic novel form.

Featuring the powerful illustrations by Loreto Aroca, the story follows what happens to teen-aged book lover Dita when her Jewish family is sent to Auschwitz. Fortunately they were sent to the family camp portion, Camp BIIb, located in the horrific place so that the camp could maintain appearances of dignified lives of the prisoners.

While in Camp BIIb, Dita is able to secretly become the camp’s librarian, lovingly caring for the prisoners’ small library of books, all while struggling to survive the constant threat of death.

“The Librarian of Auschwitz” celebrates courage and survival, while also dealing with painful suffering and loss. It also reminds us of the power of books and reading: “Novels add what’s missing in life.”

It is obviously filled with mature content, including mature images that reflect the reality of Auschwitz, so I would not recommend this book for young readers. “The Librarian of Auschwitz: The Graphic Novel,” which is due out Jan. 3, is a solid glimpse into a moment of our history that we can all still learn from and should never forget. It is a true inspiration.

Four stars out of five.

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) provided this complimentary copy through NetGalley for my honest, unbiased review.

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This graphic novel was absolutely lovely. I haven't read the original version of the book yet, so I can't speak to it as an adaptation, but being brand new to this particular story, I thought this was brilliantly well done. The art was lovely and expressive, serving as a very effective vehicle for such an important story! Dita's circumstances broke my heart just as I knew they would, but I was amazed by how much hope she and some of the other characters held in their hearts. I couldn't imagine being in that position and still having so much heart and fight left in me.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.

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I haven’t read the book that this graphic novel is adapted from but I do have it in my middle school library and know that it’s quite long. Perhaps that’s why this feels like something was missing or that it was a little rushed. I think this is an important Holocaust story to be shared but I think I was expecting it to give a little more than it did.

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Reading this book was a profound experience. Told through the eyes of Dita and based on her true experience as a teenager surviving Auschwitz was intense but so well handled. Discussing the Holocaust, its causes and its depth of inhumanity must be done with the utmost care. This is such an important book but I would recommend it for an older audience, perhaps as a YA read.
The illustrations are disturbing and right on target. This is a novel that everyone should read so, as the saying goes, history will not be repeated. So well done-

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This book does exactly what the it is intended to do. It makes the reader want to learn more about Dita and all she went through at Auschwitz and during World War II. It is so lovely to see such a story about preservation. Auschwitz was so much about ripping everything away from people and making them into nothing, and it is lovely to see how even a small group of people were able to come preserve themselves, their culture, and their histories. Books are so important, but even having living books is so important. One never knows where they are going unless they know where one has been. Listening and taking in peoples stories makes them even more alive for then they live on in others. I love Dita’s role. I love that her passion of books allowed her to become something more.
Thank you so much to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for allowing such a graphic novel to be made. I hope it truly inspires readers to want to learn more. Thank you also to Netgalley for allowing me to have access to an early copy of this title.

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This graphic novel is based on the book of the same name. Dita, a 14 year old girl is sent to Auschwitz with her family. It is there that she becomes a librarian for the few illegal books that are in their possession. What a powerful story of a young girl and the tragedies she endured.

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Disclaimer, I haven't read the novel and I wasn't familiar with holocaust tragedy (sorry)

This story is based on real history, from the holocaust survivor who became the main character in this book. I understand that this graphic novel is only potraying a small friction of the novel, let alone the real event. But oh God, horrible is an understatement. I can't imagine that atrocity really happened in the past, and the idea of the terror they had to endure saddened me.

But I think there's some part of this graphic novel where the scenes weren't directly connected so as a person who haven't read the novel, it confused me. Maybe I'll read the novel sometime later.

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Heartbreaking and necessary story. I know this graphic novel will be a hit in my library, as historical fiction is always popular. This story tells the story of 14 year old Dita, who is tasked with not only surviving the daily atrocities of Auschwitz, but also being the keeper of a small collection of books : the Library of Auschwitz.

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This graphic novel is based on a book of the same name. Dita is a 14 year old girl that has been sent to Auschwitz along with her family. She takes care of the few books that the Jewish people have managed to hide. The story follows her survival.
I really enjoyed the graphics and the vivid art. The issues I have are with a few scenes. There is some nudity even though no actual inappropriate parts are shown. There was a confusing scene where the images are very dark and Dita seems to be curled up. I think it was discussing people being transferred out but actually being killed. It was not very clear. I might suggest this being YA instead of middle grade just because of content.

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Thank you NetGalley for the ARC. An amazing graphic novel. Rich colors on the drawings of this novel. Dita is a very strong and emotional 14 year old character. You get to grow with her through challenging times. The magic and richness of books has always been her guardians. This is an excellent novel for any age and will definitely be remembered.

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I loved reading comics as a kid and I wasn't above reading a Classic Comic or two or maybe more instead of the book the comic was based on. In school, I was an undiagnosed dyslexic and reading was sometimes difficult. So it stands to reason that as an adult and a teacher, I'm a big fan of books done in graphic format. They are just what some readers need instead of a large and for them, for whatever reasons, unwieldy novel. And for others, they are just a fun way to read. But, the graphic needs to be well done, and in today's world, most of the time, they are. Which is why is pains me to say that I did not like The Librarian of Auschwitz: The Graphic Novel.
This graphic novel is the same story as the novel by the same name and written by Antonio Iturbe, so I'm not going to summarize it again. Suffice it to say it is the story of teenage Dita Adlerova, who was first sent to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia with her parents and other Jews, and who were all later transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau. There, they were living in a separate area of Birkenau, called BIIb and referred to as the Theresienstadt Family Camp. These Jewish prisoners were allowed to keep their clothing and their hair wasn't shaved, though living conditions were still as deplorable as in other parts of Auschwitz. If you haven't read the novel, you can read what I originally wrote HERE. The novel is a big book but one that is totally worth spending time with, IMHO.

Back to the graphic. First, let me begin by saying I did like the art. I found the full color cells were clearly and cleanly drawn in such a way that it was easy to follow the story. The illustrator did a great job at capturing the full range of intense emotions felt by the prisoners of Auschwitz as well as the hate and disgust exhibited by their Nazi captors. Interestingly, none of the characters, Jewish, gay, or Nazi, were portrayed as stereotypical.

And it wasn't so much that I found the graphic novel to be bad, just lacking. I read the novel back in 2017 and so I'd forgotten some details. Reading the graphic, I found myself confused about a few of the things that went on in Auschwitz and that impacted the main character, Dita, personally. I also didn't feel the importance of the eight books that made up the library was made plain, and how Dita so lovingly cared for them, nor did I feel the reverence with which the borrowers of these books felt for them.

Some of the characters, like Dita and Fredy Hirsch, as based on the actual people, and of course, so are some of the Nazis like Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death for his experiments of the prisoners in Auschwitz. There is a great epilogue at the end of the book that does go into detail not just about what happened and the people involved.

Ultimately, though, I found this version of The Librarian of Auschwitz to be simplistic and a little stiff. I realize that taking a large novel and synthesizing it down to just 144 pages is not easy task and this was a valiant effort. It just didn't work for me.

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The Librarian of Auschwitz: The Graphic Novel
by Antonio Iturbe
A clear description of the practices of the Third Reich and their exploitation of international law during the events of Auschwitz. Shows the personal struggle of a young girl and her family trying to survive during this dark age. Her struggles and hardships, her losses, and the triumphs facing the most devastating machine of war and propaganda. The illustration is stark and realistic even in comic form. Its as story that needs to be shared, and understood so that these terrible events do not happen again.

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It was never my intention to read the novel of this book. I am not into books that will make me cry if I’m choosing for myself. However, when a graphic novel edition came along, I had to snap it up and give it a read. This book was exactly what I was expecting. It was gut retching, heartbreaking, sad, and very true to life. While this is a fictional story it is based on a real-life person who survived the child’s camp at Auschwitz and acted as a librarian while there. The love of books helped her survive a drastic portion of her life and we are better people for knowing her history and the atrocities that happened. This book was the first time I had ever heard there were specialty children’s camps. It’s not something readily talked about so this book did its job and brought to life new facts of history not seen elsewhere.

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I received and ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Content: mature themes, concentration camp nudity, recommended for 13+

I haven't read the novel that this is based off of, but I'd like to. Having grown up in West Germany with a US Army father who patrolled the border between East and West, the history of concentration camps has always been of interest to me. I learned a few things from this graphic novel that I hadn't known previously, which I always appreciate. The story is very well told in graphic form and the art is fantastic.

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This graphic novel was very profound. Dita’s dedication to saving books for those around her is a great reminder of why librarians are so important.

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