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Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation - Book Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published January 4th 2019
The timeless classic has been adapted into a graphic novel
Anne Franks Diary Graphic Novel Adaptation
Frank & Folman & Polonsky. Penguin.

Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 12 1929, to Jewish parents, Otto and Edith Frank. She was the younger sister of Margot Frank. Anne Frank is one of the most well-known Jewish victims of the Holocaust. She died when she was just fifteen as a Jewish prisoner of war in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She gained worldwide fame after her death when a diary she kept during her time hiding from the Nazis was published posthumously as The Diary of a Young Girl.

Anne spent most of her life running from the Nazis. She was just four when her family were forced to flee from Germany due to Nazi persecution against Jews. The Franks relocated to Amsterdam in the Netherlands in an effort to escape from the Nazis. Otto Frank started a business and Anne and Margot started going to school and making friends. Their lives came crashing down around them when the Nazis invaded in May 1940 and began an occupation of the Netherlands.

In 1941, Anne had been stripped of her German citizenship and was now stateless and Jews in Amsterdam were facing more and more persecution from the Nazis. Otto Frank knew he needed to come up with an idea to save his family from the Nazis and he needed to do something fast. With the help of a network of allies, Otto was able to hide his family in a secret attic of a building he used to run a business out of.

The Franks hid in "The Secret Annex" from 1942 to 1944 with a handful of other Jews who were also running from the Nazis. Anne documented her time in the Annex in a diary that she received as a present on her 13th birthday. She wrote her entries as letters addressed to a fictional person that she called "Kitty".

The occupants of The Secret Annex were discovered by the Nazis in 1944 and transferred to prison camps. Otto Frank ended up being the only member of the group who would survive to see the end of the war. It was Otto who decided to publish Anne's diaries after he was handed a copy of them.

Anne Frank's diary was first published in 1947 in Dutch under the title Het Achterhuis. Dagboekbrieven 14 Juni 1942 – 1 Augustus 1944. It was first published in English in 1952 as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.

Anne Frank's diary received a lot of attention and praise from critics. It has been translated into over 60 different languages and has been called one of the most defining books of the 20th century. Anne Frank left a legacy for herself as a writer and has been called one of the most influential people of all time.

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Novel Adaptation was adapted by Ari Folman and illustrated by David Polonsky. Ari Folman is an Israeli director, screenwriter and film score composer and David Polonsky is an Israeli illustrator, artist and animator.

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Novel Adaptation uses direct quotes and adapted text from the Definitive Edition of Anne Frank's Diary which was written by Anne Frank and edited by Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressier. It was published by Doubleday which is a division of Penguin Random House.

The Graphic Novel Adaptation makes use of just 5% of the original diary text because it was estimated that if they tried to illustrate the entire thing it would take Folman and Poloksky the better part of a decade to complete and the book would total over 3,500 pages. The task given to Folman and Polosky was how to adapt a fraction of the diary while still maintaining the essence of the book.

I really enjoyed this book. I tried to read Anne's diary a couple of years back but couldn't get through the whole thing because I found it too depressing. I also had trouble keeping track of who each of the characters were. The graphic novel was much easier to follow. There is a page at the front of the book that lists each of the characters mentioned in the diary, starting with the Frank family, then describing the other residents who lived with them in the annex and the people who helped them from the outside. This page really helped me follow the story a lot better.

I thought that Anne's diary translated really well into a graphic novel format. The illustrations really helped me understand what life was like for her growing up. Polonsky was able to capture all the different sides of Anne as she grew up before and during World War Two. Anne was a normal teenager who adored movie starlets, clashed with her mother, fought with her sister, adored her father, had questions about her sexuality, enjoyed going to school and had dreams for the future.

It was painful reading passages from her that read 'I feel like I am at the beginning of a long and interesting life' knowing how and when her life was actually going to end.

It was also difficult seeing her depression and fears illustrated into colour. Polonsky drew images of Anne being dragged down to the bottom of the sea by Peter's love for her; Anne and the other residents of the Annex standing on a white cloud above a battlefield and looking down at the chaos below; Anne shrieking and wreathed in flames and running toward some soldiers; and Anne depressed and confined to a bed that is drifting over the heads of soldiers and heading toward certain doom.

Another scene that stood out to me was a description of what it was like when there would be bombing near Anne's house. Anne wouldn't be able to sleep for hours on end and would hide under her bed covers sobbing; she would pack and unpack her escape bag more than once thinking they might have to flee; she would become so nervous she would be turned off eating and she would often crawl into her father's bed to be with him because that was the only place she felt safe. I can't imagine what that must have been like for her.

The graphic novel did a good job showing the difficult relationship that Anne had with her mother Edith. She has a lot of negative things to say about her mother and her parent's marriage. I don't think Anne really hated Edith. I think she was going through a very difficult time while living in the Annex and her mother was an easy target for all of the volatile emotions that she had built up inside her.

I was really impressed with some of the things that Anne had to say about the war and the situation that she and her family found themselves in. Your heart breaks when you read things like 'It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death' and 'I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that will one day destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions.'

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Novel Adaptation was a horrifying and sad book but one that I highly recommend. Anne's story is such an important one. It is a book that everyone should read once. The graphic novel version puts a new spin on this timeless classic about a young girl hiding from Nazis in an attic.
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Why? Anne Frank’s famous war time diary, which chronicles her experiences fleeing and hiding from the Nazis during World War Two with her family, has been adapted into a graphic novel format using text from the original diaries.
When: Introduce a new generation of kids to this classic piece of literature reimagined as an immersive and colourful graphic novel.
Where: Available from your local bookstore or online retailer
Cost: $22 - $40
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