Review of Hidden Hope: How a Toy and a Hero Saved Lives During the Holocaust

Hidden Hope: How a Toy and a Hero Saved Lives During the Holocaust Hidden Hope: How a Toy and a Hero Saved Lives During the Holocaust
by Elisa Boxer; illus. by Amy June Bates
Primary, Intermediate    Abrams    48 pp.
3/23    9781419750007    $19.99
e-book ed.  9781647000899    $15.54

This slowly unfolding picture-book biography begins by setting the scene: the environment of hate during the Holocaust and why it was necessary for many Jews to hide their true identities. The book introduces a toy duck that was used to conceal false papers; then its bearer, teenaged French Resistance member Jacqueline Gauthier; and finally Gauthier’s real name, Judith Geller, and the fact that she was Jewish herself. Boxer’s short lines of text summarize Geller’s work, dramatizing one close encounter with a Nazi soldier and her persistence after that narrow escape. Bates’s ­atmospheric watercolor and gouache paintings emphasizing black and muted red tones propel the scenes with varied, inventive compositions. Though the book conveys a sense of the danger for Jews and thus the urgency of Geller’s work, the story was pieced together from relatively little information, as notes from the author and illustrator explain, and might work best as part of a larger lesson on the Holocaust. Back matter also includes a bibliography.

Pubissue-From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. She has served on the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and Sydney Taylor Book Award committees, and is serving on the 2025 Walter Dean Myers Award committee.

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