4.5 stars Graphic Novel Middle School/YA
Edita loved her books, an adoration that would lead her on quite a journey in her life. As a young child, Edita enjoyed reading and was a sponge, immersing herself into books, as she wanted to know everything. With her parent’s encouragement, Edita was on her way. Edita’s greatest fear was time. Edita feared was that she wouldn’t finish all the books that she wanted to read, in her lifetime. I can totally relate to how Edita felt. The adults in her life had other fears they were dealing with which were now starting to hit closer to home. The troops were beginning to march in. Whispered conversations were now the norm, schools started shutting down and stars were being stitched on clothing. Edith was lucky as she used her stories to help her get through the days. When the family is finally forced out of their home, Dita can’t decide which books she wants to take with her. With her ONE suitcase limit, this is a difficult decision. NONE!?!
Now, that was crazy talk! Dita leaves with her family, carry no books inside her suitcase. The family is shuffled and pushed around like cattle, following all the other individuals who are forced out also. They’re lost, scared, and nervous. What is happening? The illustrations do a terrific job showing the feelings and bleakness of this time period as the individuals try to grasp exactly what is happening in their lives. Now is not the time to be modest or arrogant, Edith’s family knows they need to do what is expected of them to survive. When they finally stop drifting around, the camp they find themselves in, is trying to organize itself. They’re utilizing the talents of each of the prisoners, to benefit themselves. Dita’s special talent of reading is one that I didn’t think she realizes how special it was. With her ability to read different languages, Dita is able to assist many other prisoners and she becomes the secret librarian. Dita takes this job seriously but there were other important roles that she had. Fourteen-year-old Dita, taking risks that some adults were afraid of taking, and putting herself out there for the benefit of others: that’s one strong teen forced to live in a concentration camp.
This is based on the true story of Dita Kraus, an Auschwitz prisoner in WWII. A graphic novel adaptation is from Antonio Iturbe, The Librarian of Auschwitz. I found that this graphic novel touched on the important topics of Dita’s life and that the story moved quite quickly. Given that this book covers only 120 pages and Iturbe novel covers over 400 pages, Rubio did a great job showing the highlights of Dita’s life and how important she was. Having read both books (I loved Antonio’s novel!), and knowing that this is a graphic novel adaption, a lot of the details of the original book had to be left out. The author did include in his Epilogue some great information that I feel is important to this book and should be read. 4.5 stars