Review: Hidden Hope: How A Toy and a Hero Saved Lives During the Holocaust
Hidden Hope: How A Toy and a Hero Saved Lives During the Holocaust
by Elisa Boxer, illustrated by Amy June Bates
Harry N. Abrams (imprint of Abrams Books), 2023
Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Rachel Simon
Hidden Hope: How A Toy and a Hero Saved Lives During the Holocaust tells the story of the brave Jewish teenager, Judith Geller, who posed as a Christian social worker in France. Using false papers as “Jacqueline Guither”, she was able to save many people by giving them forged papers made in secret workshops. One of the ways was through a simple toy: a wooden duck. When stopped by the Nazis, who would suspect a social worker visiting her “assigned” families with a toy? As part of the French Resistance, Jacqueline and others were able to save thousands of those in need of escape from the horrors going on, many of whom were in hiding. Though the book covers a difficult topic, it never becomes too dark for young readers.
Elissa Boxer’s text is simple but effective throughout the book and Amy June Bates’ art is the thing that really pops off the page and makes the statement that this story is worth learning about. Using simple panels and muted colors, Bates is able to make important scenes and images shine, such as the red beret our heroine wears and the little yellow duck she carries around. There is extensive back matter and information that readers will enjoy studying and learning from.
Hidden Hope is a strong story of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust and how anyone can be a part of it. We learn from the back matter that the toy duck lives in Yad VaShem, the Holocaust museum in Israel. By the standards of the Sydney Taylor Book Award criteria, this book would be a wonderful pick for an Honor Book. It has literary merit even with its brief text and is solidly rooted in authenticity, telling a story of the Holocaust and French resistance that many may not know about. Though it is a picture book, readers of all ages can enjoy Hidden Hope: How A Toy and a Hero Saved Lives During the Holocaust.
Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze? Click here!