In 1941 in occupied Paris, brothers Maurice and Joseph play a last game of marbles before running home to their father’s barbershop. This is the day that will change their lives forever. With the German occupation threatening their family's safety, the boys' parents decide Maurice and Joseph must disguise themselves and flee to their older brothers in the free zone.
Surviving the long journey will take every scrap of ingenuity and courage they can muster. And if they hope to elude the Nazis, they must never, under any circumstances, admit to being Jewish.
The boys travel by train, by ferry, and on foot, facing threats from strangers and receiving help from unexpected quarters. Along the way they must adapt to the unfamiliar world beyond their city—and find a way to be true to themselves even as they conceal their identities.
Based on an autobiographical novel by Joseph Joffo and adapted with the author’s input, this true story offers a harrowing but inspiring glimpse of a childhood cut short.
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.