I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944

Written by Lauren Tarshis
Review by Meg Wiviott

Max Rosen and his sister Zena are forced to live in the Jewish Ghetto alone. Their mother died years ago, and their Papa was recently taken away by the Nazis. Hungry, Max crawls under the barbed wire to gather raspberries but is caught by a Nazi soldier. Zena follows. After making a daring escape, the children are miraculously reunited with their Aunt Hannah, who is part of a partisan group hiding in the forest. The danger is not behind them. While heading to the safe camp, they are caught in a Nazi raid on the forest. Bombs and grenades rain down, injuring Max gravely. Max and Zena hide out with the partisans while Aunt Hannah and the other partisans go out on missions. After one mission, they bring back someone unexpected: Papa.

At the end of the war, the reunited family divides again; Hannah moves to Palestine while Max, Zena, and Papa move to America.

This graphic novel adaptation for middle-grade readers brings the terror, sadness, excitement, and hope of the story to life. The word count is low, leaving the illustrations to do the heavy lifting, which they do to perfection. Detailed illustrations give the reader a visual sense of the settings while establishing the mood with color, mostly muted but brightening in the moments of joy and hope. One of the most powerful pages comes near the end, illustrating the changes and loss after war. The presentation of historical events is age appropriate. Backmatter provides additional information on the rise of Nazism, treatment of Jews, and Jewish partisans, as well as a timeline. This is an excellent choice for readers who enjoy adventure stories and graphic novels, as well as an easy introduction to the Holocaust, despite more convenient coincidences than might be believable.