The Hiding Game / by Gwen Strauss; illustrated by Herb Leonhard. 4.4.2018

Pelican Publishing Company ISBN 9781455622658

INT Grades 2-5 Rating: 5

Little Aube, daughter of the famous poet, Andre Breton, is forced to move from place to place with her family during the 1940s in Nazi-occupied France. They eventually find shelter in a hidden villa where an American, Varian Fry, with funds from the New York American Rescue Committee, works to arrange passage for them, and others, out of war-torn Europe.

Sundays are Aube’s favorite day because, together with all of the guests in the house, she spends the day drawing, singing, and playing games. “Papa said that ‘by singing, playing and laughing with the greatest joy,’ they would fight against fear.” But most of the time, things remain secret–like the radio for listening to the war news and the cow in the yard for giving milk. Aube also has her own secret hiding place: the old armoire in the kitchen, just in case “they” come.

The Hiding Game, a work of creative nonfiction based on a true story, is a moving account of a little-known part of history. Strauss introduces the reader to Varian Fry and her great-uncle Danny Benedite, brave men who were instrumental in saving the lives of some of the most important scientists, artists, writers, and thinkers of the day such as: Vlady Serge who fled to Mexico and became one of the country’s leading muralist; Max Ernst, a German painter; and artists Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp; among others.

Illustrations by Herb Leonhard draw the reader into the lives of the characters, turning a factual account into a personal encounter with time and history. Strauss also provides actual photos of the individuals, a brief history of the account, and links for further study and reading.

Veronica Jorge, CLJ