Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: The Librarian of Auschwitz: The Graphic Novel by Antonio Iturbe, Salva Rubio, and Loreto Aroca

  • The Librarian of Auschwitz
  • by Antonio Iturbe, Salva Rubio, and Loreto Aroca
  • Publisher: Godwin Books
  • Publication Date: January 3, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9781250842985

Based on Antonio Iturbe’s critically acclaimed historical YA novel, this graphic adaptation focuses on Dita Kraus’s experiences in Camp BIIb, the children’s block of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Young Dita is charged with taking care of the eight forbidden books that have been smuggled into the family camp and hidden. If the Nazis discover the books, people will die. Dita risks her life for the sake of these books and shows tremendous bravery, ingenuity, and determination by doing so. Eventually, the Germans close Camp BIIb, and Dita and her mother are sent to other camps. Thanks in part to the tenacity she developed as the “librarian of Auschwitz”, Dita survives the Holocaust.

By concentrating on Dita’s time at Camp BIIb, the graphic adaptation succeeds in making Iturbe’s original 400+ page novel accessible to more readers. Dita’s resolve as the librarian of Auschwitz shines through in the text as well as in Aroca’s graphic depiction of her. Images of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen capture the horrors of both time and place, and the mostly grayish blue color palette of the background helps to set the tone.

Readers of this graphic novel might want to seek out Iturbe’s award-winning novel of the same name or perhaps Dita Kraus’ adult memoir A Delayed Life: The True Story of the Librarian of Auschwitz. Books about the Holocaust are plentiful: for teens interested in reading more about the concentration camps, recommend Alan Gratz’s Prisoner B-3087, Elizabeth Wein’s Rose Under Fire and the recently published young reader’s edition of The Boy who Followed His Father into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield. For teens who want to read about the Soviet gulags, hand them Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray, either the original novel or the 2021 graphic adaptation by Andrew Donkin.

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