An illustrated, easy read with difficult content, Who Was Anne Frank is a juvenile biography about the short life of Holocaust victim, Anne Frank. Beginning with her death at age 15, Abramson places Anne’s tragic end at the forefront of the book, exemplifying this honest and non-sugar coated account. Once the reader is prepared for Anne’s death, Abramson moves chronologically from Anne’s birth and happy childhood to the rise of a powerful and terrible leader. As Hitler takes power, Anne’s previously patriotic and loyal family moves to Amsterdam where they later make the fatal decision not to relocate as Hitler and his troops begin invading the rest of Europe. The family hides in the annex of her father’s factory, Anne begins her diary, and the story ends with the family, with the exception of Otto, dying in concentration camps. Like a history textbook, the chapters have boxes with helpful and relevant historical information inside that affect the Frank family but are not always directly related to them; readers learn briefly about World War I and the Warsaw Ghetto resistance. Some of these boxes contain more personal details of Anne’s love for movie stars and Miep’s and Jan’s special annex sleepover. Although Abramson has a lot to cover in a short amount of pages, she manages to add personal touches such as how Anne names her Ping-Pong club “Little Bear Minus 2” because she has 5 members and thinks the constellation consists of five stars instead of seven. Such vivid details humanize Anne, making her real and relatable for her third to sixth grade audience. The black pencil illustrations do not enhance the text nor are they necessary, but the sketches may appeal to the younger readers who have a lot to take in and comprehend. The incorporation of how Anne Frank’s story becomes a commercialized entity—in a positive way—is also an informative addition that is not always discussed.
Who Was Anne Frank? by Ann Abramson and illustrated by Nancy Harrison (Grosset & Dunlap, 2007)
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