cover image Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation

Ari Folman and David Polonsky. Pantheon, $24.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-101-87179-9

The classic, original text of Frank’s diary is, as Folman writes in his adapter’s note, impossible to improve upon; instead, he and Polonsky (cocreators of the film Waltz with Bashir) focus on illuminating its humor, insight, and supporting cast in this spirited graphic adaptation, authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation. German Jews living in Holland, Anne and her family go into hiding in the “Secret Annex” behind her father’s business in 1942. The sequential art allows readers to get a visual diagram of the apartment shared by Anne and seven other residents. Outside, every allied victory ironically makes the Franks’ lives harder, as Nazi occupiers clamp down on dissidents. Inside, Anne, drawn with large dark eyes, blooms like the hardiest, loveliest weed—a moody teenager whose wit, self-awareness, and rich fantasy life take center stage. In one dinner scene, Polonsky draws Anne’s mother as a sheep keening for “those poor people starving in the Eastern camps,” while her angelic, bespectacled sister, Margot, is an owl who insists, “I feel full just by looking at others.” The narrative devotes ample time to Anne’s romantic feelings and sexual questions. The adaptors of her story take her seriously, but not more seriously than she took herself. The beauty of Anne’s life and the untarnished power of her legacy—here further elevated by Folman and Polonsky—are heartening reminders of the horror of her fate. (Oct.)