A Friend Called Anne

Jacqueline van Maarsen, Author, Carol Ann Lee, Author , retold for children by Carol Ann Lee. Viking $15.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-670-05958-4

Those familiar with Anne Frank's diary will recognize Jacqueline van Maarsen as "Jopie," Anne's best friend, whose own history is retold here (as the subtitle suggests, "One Girl's Story of War, Peace, and a Unique Friendship with Anne Frank"). The prologue includes the "farewell letter" that Anne wrote to Jacqueline (which Mr. Frank gave to Jacqueline after the war ended; it was tucked into Anne's diary), and offers background on the Frank family. Chapter one of Lee's (Anne Frank's Story ) account begins on May 10, 1940, as German forces attack the Netherlands, then abruptly flashes back to Jacqueline's life in prewar Amsterdam and her friendship with Anne. When Jacqueline, her father and sister registered as Jews in 1941 (her mother was Catholic), the girl transferred to the Jewish Lyceum, where she met Anne. The author occasionally quotes van Maarsen within the narrative, and the shift from the present tense to the past can be jarring. The better passages focus on the girls' everyday childhood experiences (playing table tennis and collecting movie-star postcards) in contrast to the war's omnipresence. Van Maarsen's quoted recollections of her friend are refreshingly down-to-earth—she remembers Anne as lively, affectionate, even a bit vain: "Anne loved walking behind boys and fantasizing that they were all her admirers. I didn't notice too much admiring going on, but they probably found her amusing." Jacqueline's mother took extraordinary, successful steps to have her daughters removed from the Jewish register. Such details will likely fascinate those interested in WWII, and Anne Frank in particular, despite the marred narrative. Ages 9-up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 05/23/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Prebound-Glued - 163 pages - 978-0-7569-8146-4
Paperback - 163 pages - 978-0-14-240719-6
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