This picture book tells the story of the brave woman, Miep Gies, who rescued Anne Frank’s diary after Anne was taken by the Nazis.
The narrative is based on Miep’s own autobiography and how she remembered what happened. Miep Gies, as readers of The Diary of Anne Frank will know, helped eight people – the Frank family of four, the Van Pels family of three, and their acquaintance Fritz Pfeffer – survive during their two-year period of hiding from the Nazis in the secret annex above Otto Frank’s business. Most of the story in this book takes place after the hiders’ arrest on August 4, 1944. Otto Frank survived, but he was the only one. Anne’s mother died in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp 21 days before it was liberated. Anne and her sister Margot had been transferred to the Bergen-Belsen camp. Both died of typhus just two months before the Nazi surrendered. The Van Pels and Pfeffer all died in various concentration camps.
Miep lived to be 100, but never overcame the shock of the ordeal.
The author writes in notes at the end of the book that while most people know Miep retrieved the diary from the annex after the capture, they may not know what Miep did next:
“After the hiders were captured, Miep marched into the dangerous Nazi police headquarters twice and offered the officer from Vienna money to free them. Though he refused, Miep had the courage to try everything she could.”
The author observes:
“Miep did not want to be viewed as a hero. ‘Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty,’ she said. “I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not.’”
Illustrator Jordi Solano sticks to solemn tones dominated by brown and sepia.
Back matter includes “Author’s Notes,” “More About Miep’s Courage,” and a “Timeline of Miep’s Life.” The endpapers show the cover design of Anne’s diary along with actual photos.
Evaluation: The message of this book, highlighted by its emphasis on Miep’s role in Anne Frank’s story, is that in the face of injustice, the moral choice is the only choice. Children in the intended reading group of age eight and above will have much to reflect on: What did the Holocaust mean for those who lived under Nazi control? How do you know if something is wrong even if it is passed as law – especially in the present time when disinformation is so prevalent? If you did believe something was immoral and unjust, what would you do about it?
Published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2019