The Anne Frank Case: Simon Wiesenthal's Search for the Truth. New York: Holiday House.
Appetizer: Set in Linz, Austria, a Nazi hunter named Simon Wiesenthal seeks to prove that Anne Frank really existed and that her diary was not a forgery by finding the Gestapo officer who arrested her. As Sion commits to his search, the narrative shares his own background as he eluded death during the Holocaust.
Let me be honest here. This is an important story to share. VERY IMPORTANT! And while the the writing is well done, and the paintings are very beautiful and realistic. This picturebook is also VERY text heavy and serious. The illustrations don't incorporate a lot of action. That pretty much eliminates the idea of trying to get kids to think of this book as being anything but educational. Ever. Also, the fact that there are some huge amounts of historical information piled on to the reader as backstory can be a little daunting.
Having said that though, as far as historical biographical sketches go, this one is tops. It incorporates a lot of quotes that flow easily and naturally.
"One night in October 1958 at nine thirty, the phone rang in Simon Wiesenthal's apartment in Linz, Austria.
"Can you come at once to the Landes Theater?" asked a friend, who sounded upset.
Simon's friend told him that he was attending a performance of The Diary of Anne Frank. But it had been disrupted."
"After the war ex=Nazis had returned to their teaching jobs in Austria and Germany. some remained silent about their past. Others boasted. Many ex-Nazis and Nazi sympathizers taught that the Holocaust had either never happened or that it had been greatly exaggerated. The adults were passing along a heritage of bigotry and ignorance to their children."
"If we could prove to you that Anne Frank existed, would you accept the diary as genuine?"
"At that very moment Simon took on a new case. "I had to find the man who had arrested Anne Frank fourteen years before."
To Go with the Meal:
The Anne Frank Case would be an excellent book to share with middle grade or young adult students who grew up in a culture or family who denied the Holocaust occurred. The book could be used to extend a history lesson on the Holocaust and the Nazi invasion of Poland
The picturebook would also be a good introduction to learning about Anne Frank before reading her diary.
To try to increase student interest in the book, a teacher could present it as a detective or investigative story.
Tasty Rating: !!!