________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 7 . . . . November 21, 2008

cover Good-Bye Marianne: The Graphic Novel.

Irene N. Watts. Illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2008.
124 pp., pbk., $14.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-830-9.

Grades 6-10 / Ages 11-15.

Review by Jen Waters.

***½ /4


Berlin, December 1, 1938

We are not all the same. Good-bye Marianne.

From your friend, Ernest.


It is 1938, just one week after Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), and 11-year-old Marianne Kohn lives with her mother in a Berlin that is quickly becoming foreign to them: Jewish shops are being burned, Jewish children are being expelled from school and segregated in much of the city, and Marianne's father is on the run from the German police. Now on permanent vacation and left to her own devices while her mother works at an orphanage, Marianne becomes friends with Ernest, the nephew of her neighbour, until she learns he is yet another member of Hitler youth who does not share her world view. When the Kohn's house is raided by the Gestapo and Marianne's mother fears for their lives, she decides to send Marianne (in the place of a girl who came down with the measles) on the Kindertransporte to England. It is a heartbreaking decision for both of them (and for the reader) but a necessary one in order to ensure that the little girl will have a future.

internal art

     Based on the novel of the same name by Irene Watts (originally published in 1998 and the winner of many awards), the graphic novel is just as effective as the novel in conveying the worries of both Jewish mother and child in Nazi Berlin. Kathryn Shoemaker's simple yet powerful pencil illustrations stir up an emotional response in the reader, as do the letters from Marianne's friend Ernest, and her mother as she is embarking on the Kindertransporte.

     The transformation of Watt's novel into a graphic novel has also broadened the novel's appeal to a generation of readers for whom pictures speak stronger than words. As a teen services librarian, I often find it hard to convince teens to read anything other than manga, let alone historical fiction about the Holocaust, and I am always excited with graphic novels such as this or Miriam Katin's We Are On Our Own. I am confident that teachers will also appreciate this adaptation and feel the need to incorporate it into Holocaust curriculum (perhaps paired with Hana's Suitcase, Katin's graphic novel or Jerry Spinelli's Milkweed), and create some good discussion about the Holocaust.

Highly Recommended.

Jen Waters is the teen services librarian at the Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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