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Since the original Dutch publication of Diary of a Young Girl in 1947, Anne Frank has become an international symbol, variously representing the innocence of youth, the fate of Jewish children under Nazi persecution, and hope and faith in the face of hatred (``In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart''). With its combination of family photographs (many reproduced here for the first time), biographical sketches of Anne Frank and the others in the ``Secret Annex,'' and brief essays identifying specific stages of the Holocaust, this astonishing book moves past symbolism to disentangle the real Anne Frank from mythography. Van der Rol and Verhoeven, who work at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, focus sharply on the facts about Anne Frank's life--and death. They document the Frank family's odyssey from Germany to Holland, locate a farewell postcard Anne sent just before going into hiding, display Anne's roughly written diary entries, and quote those who saw her before she died in Bergen Belsen. Sidebars and interpolated passages set her experiences against a broader historical backdrop, explaining major developments of WW II with maps and photographs as well as text. They also discuss the general issue of Jews' going into hiding in Holland: photographs of very cramped hiding places contrast with pictures and maps showing the Franks' relatively spacious quarters; children are shown going into hiding without their parents; a receipt indicates bounty paid to someone who turned Jews over to the Nazis. A superb exploration of the particular and the universal meanings of a seminal work. BOMC selection. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-Anyone who has been touched by Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl will be moved by this account that opens on the day Anne received the journal for her 13th birthday. The color photo of the diary set opposite the text lends immediacy and a sense of reality to the commentary. The feelings are reinforced throughout by the authors' prodigious research and the accumulation of details through the photographs. Some of the pictures included have never been published before, and their lengthy captions describe not only who is in the photos, but also the circumstances under which they were taken. Framed pages expand on the political and economical situations of the time. The well-written main narrative, which uses aptly chosen quotations from the diary, takes readers from Anne's normal, happy childhood through the years in the Secret Annex to the betrayal and Anne's death from typhus in Bergen-Belsen just months before her 16th birthday and only weeks before the liberation of the camp. For readers the loss is double. One feels the personal loss of a bright, fun-loving, and talented individual who might have made a difference in the world and also remembers that many Anne Franks died during that nightmarish period.- Amy Kellman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Like the classic diary, this photobiography translated from the Dutch captures the ordinariness of Anne Frank's life. The particulars personalize the sorrow of the six million gone. The individual photos of Anne's early life are generally unexceptional, mostly snapshots, a bit blurry at times, like any family album; that's why they bear witness to the way genocide destroyed people like you and me. At the same time, the book puts Anne Frank's story in a historical context. The handsome design, with well-captioned photographs and short essays in spacious type, will hold browsers as well as those who want to read the book through. Excerpts from Anne's diaries are combined with an account of the two years in the Secret Annex (from the time of going into hiding until the betrayal, arrest, and deportation) and also with a general history and photographs of the rise of Nazism and the fate of the Jews. Several large, clear maps also tell the story, including where Anne Frank lived (from Germany to Holland to the Secret Annex to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen). A final section talks about the return of Anne's father after the war, the setting up of the Anne Frank House as a museum in 1960, and the diary's authenticity. There are photos of those who risked their lives to hide the Franks, including Miep Gies, who found the diary after Anne was taken away Everything is quiet, low-key: There's no milking of the legend. It's hard to know which pages are more heartbreaking: the facsimile of the last diary entry; the picture of the marks on the wall recording the growth of Anne and her sister in their hiding place; the mass scenes of the transports and concentration camps. All libraries will want this: for classroom units studying the Holocaust, for kids reading the diary, for everyone who remembers it. In an interview in "Book Links" (Sept_. 1993), coauthor Verhoeven, a historian at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, emphasizes the connection between what happened to Anne Frank and racism today.