This brief but powerful introduction to Anne Frank’s life uses a format suitable for both newly independent readers and older readers who need simplified text.
The chestnut tree is used as a framing device, providing a narrative hook to introduce Anne and her life in captivity in World War II–era Amsterdam. A quote from Anne’s diary is paired with a powerful image of Anne looking out through an attic window at the tree’s bare branches. The concluding pages detail how the tree finally met its end in a powerful storm; sadness is countered with the hopeful description of hundreds of saplings from the famous tree planted around the world. A rather overwrought final page draws a parallel between these new trees and Anne’s words, which “have been planted in the minds of the millions who read her diary.” (Oddly, the tree depicted here does not appear to be a chestnut.) The context of the Nazi era and the basic facts of Anne’s life are skillfully summarized, ending with her family being sent to concentration camps and a brief acknowledgement that “Anne did not survive the war.” Touching illustrations in muted tones augment the portrayal of Anne’s character and add to the atmospheric depiction of her life in the Secret Annex.
A sensitive introduction to a young woman whose words continue to live. (bibliography, author’s note) (Early reader/biography. 6-12)