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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

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…

A Bag of Marbles

by Joseph Joffo

Overall Book Review:

A Bag of Marbles is an absolutely unique WWII story, made better because it’s true. Vincent Bailly’s illustrations beautifully complement the text from the original work.

We don’t often think about what Jews in countries that were invaded by Germany went through to maintain their freedom, or how NAZI philosophy totally permeated Europe. This book opens a reader’s eyes to the Jews’ situation outside of the countries we read about most.

Most enjoyable was the relief of seeing Jo navigate his difficulties without having to endure some of the atrocities that happened in other countries. I still got a very strong sense of the trauma war inflicts on children, however–even when they’re not interred in concentration camps.

I got lost a few times in this graphic novel, but I was able to pick up the thread of the story without too much trouble. Still, the number of times I had to go back and reread was more than most young readers will be patient with. It left me thinking I’d like to read the original book to get the whole story. 

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Lerner Publishing Group

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation; 2 mild obscenities; 3 scatological words; 10 derogatory names.

Violence/Gore:  A character slaps another character in the face; a character punches another character in the face; intense situations in which Nazis are questioning people, demanding papers, chasing characters.

Sex/Nudity:  Adolescent characters walk past a brothel and are teased by the occupants with mild innuendo; a character is asked to remove clothing so officials can determine whether or not he has been circumcised.

Mature Subject Matter:

Children are separated from parents; War; Interrogation by Nazis

Alcohol / Drug Use:

A minor is seen smoking briefly; adult characters smoke and drink alcohol socially.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. My mother would often find me curled up in a corner, avoiding chores with a book–or two. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a large selection of YA books. I had children’s books and adult literature to choose from. I’ve come to love YA fiction as an adult and read almost nothing else when I read for pleasure–any genre will do.