The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale

Knopf/Pantheon. Nov. 1996. 296p. Tr $35. ISBN 9780679406419.
Gr 8 Up–Still the only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize, this tells the story of author Spiegelman’s father and his experience as a Polish Jew in World War II. Framing the story with scenes of Spiegelman talking with his father, Vladek, in the present and flashing back to the 1940s, Spiegelman renders the horrors of the Holocaust in stark black and white art with Jews depicted as mice and Nazis as cats. His drawings are deceptively simple, and yet he conveys wide-ranging emotions of fear, anger, relief, and joy through the tilt and curve of an eyebrow and the hunch of shoulders. Cartoons do not diminish the emotional effect here; rather the anthropomorphizing allows Spiegelman to depict some of the most harrowing aspects of Vladek’s story in detail and asks readers to hold both the reality of the Holocaust and its inconceivability at the same time. Even with so many WWII books available, Maus stands out. The graphic novel format and allegorical treatment guarantee that this book will not stay on the shelf.
VERDICT A must-read for students interested in learning more about WWII.

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