A Bag of Marbles: The Graphic Novel

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Whitney Graceby Whitney Grace
Staff Writer
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It has become a habit for Holocaust stories to be adapted into Graphic Universe Bag of Marblesgraphic novels ever since Art Spigelman won the Pulitzer with Maus. Graphic novels are a marvelous medium to tell these stories, because sometimes images are the only way to express the atrocities that happened. A Bag of Marbles is adapted from Joseph Joffo”s best-selling book and tells the author’s account of how his family escaped the concentration camps. For a time, French Jews were safe in their country, but when the Nazis conquered France, the Jews began to flee to an area called the free zone. Joffo’s father sets in motion the family journey, when he gives the boy 10,000 francs and tells him to take his brother to the free zone. If anyone stops them, they are told to deny their Jewish heritage. The family manages to find safety, but they must constantly travel and bend the truth to stay on step ahead of the Nazis.

For every Holocaust story there are thousands of others left untold. Joffo and his family were some of the lucky ones. In his immediate family, Joffo only lost is father to the camps while his brothers and mother survived. Any loss is a tragedy, but compared to whole generations being wiped out in an instant, he was blessed. Even though Joffo never saw the camps, he had some extremely close calls where smart thinking, his youth, and the kindness of strangers saved him. As a historical account, the book displays a personal account of what a child experienced during World War II. Young readers will identify with the character and learn about dangers other kids had to experience in the past. Older readers will want to stick with Joffo’s original prose book, not that Kris’s adaptation lacks any impact.

Vincent Bailly’s art is a good fit for the subject matter and intended audience. He uses a mixture of pen, ink, and watercolor to express the dangerous times displays a positive feeling if one wasn’t aware of the book’s content and it softens the intensity. As this book was first written in France, it is hard to say if the French audience views the art differently.

A Bag of Marbles stands to make waves as a teaching tool on World War II and the perils of the Holocaust.

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