cover image A Bag of Marbles: The Graphic Novel

A Bag of Marbles: The Graphic Novel

Joseph Joffo, adapted by Kris, trans. from the French by Edward Gauvin, illus. by Vincent Bailly. Lerner/Graphic Universe, $9.95 paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-4677-1516-4

This marvelously conceived and executed graphic memoir, adapted from Joffo’s 1973 book of the same name, tells the story of four Jewish brothers who spend WWII hiding from Nazi soldiers in Vichy France. When the Germans arrive, the boys’ father sends them off in pairs to separate destinations, instructing them never to reveal their Jewish identities to anyone. The two younger boys, Jo (the author) and Maurice, travel from city to city, always one step ahead of arrest. Sometimes they’re saved by decent French citizens (“Oh, the children are with me,” says a priest, casually). More often, desperation makes the boys quick-witted, as when they persuade an interrogator that what appears to be circumcision is the result of surgery for adhesions. The brothers’ courage, Joffo makes clear in the story’s early pages, has its source in their father’s valor. He dies in the camps, but his wife and sons survive. Bailly’s artwork carries much of the story’s emotional impact—every character is drawn with care, and every scene is crammed with atmospheric detail. Not to be missed. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)