Friday, February 26, 2010

Maus: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman

Another great graphic novel! Maus II picks up where book one left off. Art, the graphic novelist, is still recording conversations with his father. Vladek Spiegelman begins his story again, entering the gates of Auschwitz to endure unimaginable terrors. The novel opens with Art’s misgivings about drawing Vladek’s experience during WWII and about the man he became after the war. Art admits feeling presumptuous and feels the weight of his project. Perhaps more than the first novel, Maus II highlights Art’s conflicted feelings for Vladek. He feels deep respect for his father but struggles to love the miserly and racist man his father is. Moments of such honesty keep readers from idolizing Vladek but to respect his story, to learn what we can from it and to understand each person has his or her own history. And from our personal histories we construct our world view. I think that is one lesson (even though the novelist says he intended no “message”) I get out of reading Maus. Art finds it difficult to be around his father and I think he wants to know Vladek’s story so badly because he desires to understand Vladek’s history, to know the whole person who is his father. Vladek and his wife survive the war but are forever altered.

Maus I/II is a wonderful text to introduce young people to WWII/ the holocaust. It is honest about war cruelties but is not gory. There is some swearing and a few naked mice but nothing graphic or sexual. My recommended age is 13 only because I feel kids much younger may not appreciate the relationship between Art, a grown man, and his elderly father. But don’t let the YA tag fool you. Adults can appreciate Maus as much as young people. It's not strictly a children's story by any stretch. Highly recommended!
Publisher: Pantheon Books, 1991 Recommended Age: 13 and up
Source: IC Public Library              Pages: 136
Rating: 5 Stars

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