Maus Volume 1 by Art Spiegelman

MAUS-graphic-novels-1151861_500_714Title: Maus: Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History

Author: Art Spiegelman

ISBN: 0-394-54155-3

Publication Date: 1986

Genre: Graphic Novel

Reading Level/Interest Age: 13 and up

Plot: Art Spiegelman is an author/illustrator who wants to tell his father’s (Vladek Spiegelman) story in one of his graphic novels. Vladek was a Jew living in Poland during the German occupation. The story is split between two timelines. The present timeline shows Art and Vladek dealing with their strained relationship after the suicide of Art’s mother and how different their views of the world are. The second timeline tells Vladek pass, which spans from him as a young man meeting Art’s mother to him being stripped of everything and being sent to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. The story concentrates on the hardship Art’s parents went through to beat the odds and both survive the holocaust.

Critical Evaluation: Maus’ illustrations are similar to a cartoon. The different races involved are all represented by animals with human bodies. Jews are mice, the non Jewish Polish are shown as pigs and the Germans are portrayed as cats. Mice being oppressed by cats are a very old cliché but works well for the story. The use of the present timeline was a good way to take a brake from the pass timeline from time to time.

 Reader’s Annotation: Beautifully illustrated and powerfully written, this graphic novel tells a story of a man who despite the extreme odds staked against him survived being a Jew in occupied Poland and how he still deals with hardships in present day.

Author: According to Wikipedia and the author’s official website Art Spiegelman was born Itzhak Avraham ben Zeev on 15 February 1948 in Stockholm, Sweden. He is a New-York-based American cartoonist, editor and comics advocate, best known for his graphic novel Maus (1986, 1991). His work as co-editor on the comics magazines Arcade and Raw has been influential, and he spent a decade as contributing artist for The New Yorker starting in 1992, where he made several high-profile and sometimes controversial covers

Curriculum Ties:

  • History
  • War
  • Genocide
  • Multiculturalism 

Booktalking Ideas:

  1. Are Mice and Cats the perfect repetition for the Jews and Nazi or is there a better example?

Challenging Issues:

  • Suicide
  • Violence
  • Racism

Defensive Maneuvers:

  • I would be sure to study and memorize the library’s collection policy.
  • The Library Bill of Rights must also be brought to the challenger’s attention stating that the library is an information institution that provides both information and ideas.
  • Have both good and bad reviews (from respected sources) about the book at hand.
  • Remember to mention the awards and honors that the item has received.
  • Be sure to listen to the person who is challenging the book and do not interrupt them while they are speaking. Try to understand where the patron is coming from when he or she states their concerns about the material.
  • When you respond to the challenger, have a calm and respectable tone informing them that the library must do all that it can to provide intellectual freedom to its patrons, young and old.

Why This Book? I enjoyed the illustration style of this literature. This is a more detailed look into the struggles of the Jewish person living in occupied Poland instead of the broad story that you learn in history textbooks.

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