Review: Hidden Like Anne Frank by Marcel Prins & Peter Henk Steenhuis
Author(s): Marcel Prins & Peter Henk Steenhuis
Genre: Non-Fiction, Middle Grade, Young Adult
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Expected Publication: March 25, 2014
Fourteen unforgettable true stories of children hidden away during World War II
Jaap Sitters was only eight years old when his mother cut the yellow stars off his clothes and sent him, alone, on a fifteen-mile walk to hide with relatives. It was a terrifying night, one he would never forget. Before the end of the war, Jaap would hide in secret rooms and behind walls. He would suffer from hunger, sickness, and the looming threat of Nazi raids. But he would live.
This is just one of the incredible stories told in HIDDEN LIKE ANNE FRANK, a collection of eye-opening first-person accounts that share what it was like to go into hiding during World War II. Some children were only three or four years old when they were hidden; some were teenagers. Some hid with neighbors or family, while many were with complete strangers. But all know the pain of losing their homes, their families, even their own names. They describe the secret network of brave people who kept them safe. And they share the coincidences and close escapes that made all the difference.
Hidden Like Anne Frank is a story that I eagerly wanted to read when I came across it to review. I have quite a fascination with WWII and through the years have read countless stories involving not only Jewish Children who hid during the war but Germans and Gypsies alike. However, I couldn't really recall any that focused on Dutch Children specifically so that to me was instantly intriguing.
One of the best parts about this book were the stories told by the survivors themselves. They were touching, heartbreaking and downright horrific in some cases yet, I felt that the Authors kept the recollections as raw as possible despite being marketed to a Young/Middle Grade audience. To truly keep History alive and most importantly correct we need to teach and learn the bad along with the good. Sometimes (at least in my experience) it seems that to make books more marketable to a younger Audience the Authors/Publishers of those books will censor the truly awful bits of the war presenting a sugar coated version of the events to pass whatever rating system is in place at the time but these Authors seem to have shown it all, at least I hope they did.
Another thing that I found interesting were the creative lengths the Children and their caretakers would take to keep them out of sight of the Nazi's. Some children were lucky as they just assimilated into new families and literally hid in plain sight but others would be tucked away like parcels hidden in walls, crawl spaces or even that little space above the doorway when the Nazi's came around. Yet their were others still whom were kept truly hidden. These children had little interaction with anyone in the house they were staying/hiding and in some instances were treated by the owners mostly as a means for quick income for those "graciously" hiding them.
Lastly, I like that we were given some sort of update on what happened to each of the survivors once the war ended and they were reunited with their families. It truly broke my heart to see how few families came away intact. Not only did the children seem to have trouble reconnecting with their parents once guardianship was handed back over but others were left with a heavy burden of being sometimes the only surviving child out of a rather large family unit. Those children I think were left more scarred than the others in some way as they weren't necessarily the correct child to survive in their parents eyes.
Now although I really enjoyed Hidden Like Anne Frank I did have some small issues with it overall.
First off, I felt that their was a sort of disjointedness between stories. Some of the children were extremely little when they went into hiding so their stories felt more like they were told to them throughout their childhood as being accurate vs. actually remembering those events specifically like an older child might. They also seemed to be quicker reads than those told by the older survivors. Is this because they themselves aren't sure of the events or was it simply because hiding younger children especially one who didn't look so Jewish was easier than those of an older one who might?
Another thing that seems silly but sort of bugs me is the title. Yes, I understand the story of Anne Frank is one of the most known from that time period but I wish that the Authors didn't have to use her as a way to promote these children's stories. Although I guess the fact one of the survivors had a brief run in with Anne during her time captive at least makes it seem a bit more justifiable.
Despite some of my problems with the disjointedness between stories I'm still incredibly happy to have read this book. The Holocaust touched so many people's lives for better and worse and the more memories committed to paper now the better understanding future generations will have of the atrocities that occurred later. Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think it's a great read not only for Adults wanting to learn more about that time period but also it'd work great as a companion book for younger readers being introduced to WWII in class. Also I feel I should mention that the book has a glossary in the back to help readers with some of the unfamiliar terms mentioned throughout the book. So if being confused by the terminology is a concern for you note that there is one to help you out. With that being said, I will be rating Hidden Like Anne Frank by Marcel Prins & Peter Henk Steenhuis ★★★★.
*Copy reviewed provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.
To learn more about this title or those featured in it check out www.HiddenLikeAnneFrank.com