By Art Spiegelman
"Maus is a book that cannot be put down, truly, even to sleep. When two of the mice speak of love, you are moved, when they suffer, you weep. Slowly through this little tale comprised of suffering, humor and life's daily trials, you are captivated by the language of an old Eastern European family, and when you finish Maus, you are unhappy to have left that magical world." - Umberto Eco, writer and philosopher
What's it about?: The Complete Maus is actually two separate graphic novels. The first, Maus, A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and tells the true story of the author's father, Vladek, and mother, Anja — a Polish Jew and survivor of the Holocaust. The author, who is a character himself, goes on to tell his father's story through his comic strip, where all the characters are animals. Jews are mice ("Maus" is the German for "mouse"), Germans are cats, and so on. This first volume illustrates the beginning of the tale and the horrors of the Nazi occupation. The second volume, Maus, A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began, picks up where the first left off, with Vladek inhabiting and surviving the death camp at Auschwitz and the reunion between the author's parents.
Why your child should read it: Both of these graphic novels are as haunting as they are brilliant. Aside from winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, the Wall Street Journal called Maus, "the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust". But Maus is not only the story of the Holocaust. It's the story of the survivors and their lives after the war and the offspring of those survivors trying to make sense of their history. At one point, Vladek tells his son, "It would take many books, my life, and no one wants anyway to hear such stories." With its graphic novel format and clever use of animal characters, Maus is a work that younger readers can readily access and relate to while helping them understand the horrors and consequences of one of the most important events in human history.
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