From Sterling Publishers comes Sterling Biographies, a set of small, kid-friendly biographies that tell the story of influential people throughout history. “Anne Frank: Hidden Hope” follows the plight of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family “ dad Otto, mom Edith and sister Margot “ in 1942 at the age of 13. They were discovered in their secret annex in Amsterdam in 1944 and sent to different concentration camps to die, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen.
I first read Anne Frank’s starkly beautiful diary “ published by Otto, the only member of the family that survived internment “ when I was Anne’s age of 13, and it has remained one of my favorite pieces of literature. Anne’s faithfully kept diary, which chronicled her fears, hopes, happiness and minutiae of life in a cramped annex (where a chestnut tree glimpsed from a window was her only connection to the outside world) put a very real face to the Holocaust. This young girl, who often had insights far beyond her years, gave full-bodied voice to not only one of the greatest tragedies of modern times, but, perhaps more importantly, to the life and love that was there in the face of it.
“The sun is shining, the sky is blue, there’s a magnificent breeze, and I’m longing “ really longing “ for everything: conversation, freedom, friends, being alone. “¦ I think spring is inside me,” she wrote in one entry.
I have visited the annex in Amsterdam, at 263 Prinsengracht, where she, her family and four others hid for two years. The small rooms of the annex have been kept largely as they were, and a visitor’s center holds some of their personal items, as well as acts as a museum. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
Sterling’s biography does a great job of telling Anne’s story and the story of the Holocaust in print, pictures, illustrations and a helpful glossary. It would work well as an introduction for a younger reader who is not yet ready for Anne’s diary.
Sterling Biographies, all written for middle-grade readers, present the stories of people who changed their world in easy-to-read format that doesn’t get too bogged down. They’ll make kids hungry to learn more. Plus, the series is all constructed in the same manner, so kids can jump from one to another with familiarity. It reminded me of the “American Girl” books that focus on different characters, but follow the same basic formula and include a section of history at the back. The Sterling Biographies series currently has 30 separate titles available, from Joan of Arc to Jacques Cousteau.
Particularly interesting are the clutch of books dedicated to women. The titles include “Marie Curie: Mother of Modern Physics,” by Janice Borzendowski; “Cleopatra: Egypt’s Last and Greatest Queen,” by Susan Blackaby; “Helen Keller: Courage in Darkness,” by Emma Carlson Berne; and “Amelia Earhart: A Life in Flight,” by Victoria Garrett Jones.
“Jenny Coon Peterson