“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana, (White Bird, 2019)
As an avid reader who is passionate about children’s literature, there are many books that captivate my attention. However, the graphic novel, White Bird is in a class of its own! White Bird written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio is a book that both my daughter and I could not put down and were captivated by the story and illustrations.
The story is based off of the life of the Julian’s grandmother. Who is Julian? For those of you who are not familiar with the character Julian, he was Auggie Pullman’s classroom bully in the book, Wonder.
To learn more about the author, R.J. Palacio, visit her website here.
About the Story
White Bird begins with the dialogue between Julian and his grandmother via face time. Julian is doing a school project and wants to interview his grandmother about her experience in the Holocaust. From that moment on, Julian’s grandmother (first name “Sara”) tells the story of her past including her happy childhood with her parents, her beloved friend/lover Julien and the events that led up to her release out of hiding during the war. The author takes the reader on an emotional journey through Sara’s hiding from the Nazi’s, her devastating losses, the family who saved her, and her emotional relationship with Julien. This book is a true masterpiece that should be all home and classroom libraries.
This book can be read both aloud with your child or separately. Don’t rush through this book! Go slow and take the time to review all of the events in the story, the emotions of the characters and the development of the relationships over time. Each page can lead to an important discussion about kindness and sacrifice. As a small note, there are some illustrations that are political in nature towards the end of the book. As a parent, I took this opportunity to discuss what the author was trying to convey through her text and art.
Learn more about the book here by watching this video: