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Yossel April 19, 1943 Hardcover – October 21, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kubert explores what might have been in this gripping account of WWII's Warsaw ghetto uprising. In the text introduction, Kubert recalls how his Polish family attempted to emigrate to the U.S. in 1926, but they were denied because his mother was pregnant with him. Luckily, they succeeded a few months later, and Kubert went on to become one of the most honored artists in comics history. But what if his family hadn't gotten away? In an immediate, sketchy pencil style, Kubert imagines an alternate version of his family history. Yossel is a teenaged boy with a gift for art. Uprooted and stripped of their possessions, the family is sent to the Warsaw ghetto with other Jews and undesirables, where conditions deteriorate as the Final Solution is put into action. Yossel's gift for artwork amuses the German guards and they give him special favors. Thus, when his family is sent off to a concentration camp, he is spared. He joins other young men in the underground resistance, however, including Mordechai, based on real-life ringleader Mordechai Anielewicz. An escapee from one of the camps makes his way to the ghetto and tells of the unimaginable horrors taking place, leading the resistance to stand up against the Nazis in an ultimately futile but memorable uprising. Kubert's loose pencil art excels at catching character and setting in a few lines, although the layouts are sometimes plain. A straightforward take on the events of the Holocaust, Yossel tells its tragic story with both emotion and dignity.
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From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Kubert combined war and comics to great effect in the "Sgt. Rock" series (DC Comics); in this work, the combination is taken in a very different direction. The author/illustrator's family immigrated to the U.S. from Poland before the Nazi invasion, but he has always been troubled by questions of "what if?" His answer is this book, a speculation on what might have happened had he found himself trapped as a teenager in the Warsaw ghetto. Kubert's alter ego is Yossel, a boy torn from his family but sustained by a compulsion to draw. The comic-book heroes of his sketches appeal to the Nazis, and the soldiers keep him on as a kind of pet. This position is of exceptional use in gathering and passing on information to the Resistance movement to which he belongs. As the uprising escalates, his art continues to provide him solace, even until his final tragic moments. Created to appear as illustrations from Yossel's sketchbook, the pages feature rough yet evocative pencil sketches rendered in Kubert's trademark dramatic style. The black-on-gray drawings make the plight of the people and the devastated, decaying hell of Warsaw in 1943 profoundly tangible. While the straightforward prose does not always have the same impact as the images, the work as a whole is a fascinating and provocative reminder of the lingering psychological effects of war.–Douglas P. Davey, Halton Hills Public Libraries, Ontario, Canada
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: IBooks (October 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074347516X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743475167
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.7 x 10.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,019,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bennet Pomerantz VINE VOICE on July 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
Joe Kubert has created war stories for DC comics. His stories echo the echo of the human spirit. In Yossel, his storytelling is an a high arc

This case study of the effects of war is done in pencils. It is war storytelling with a heart.

It would seem this graphic novel was Kubert's sketches and rough drafts. However, as he explains "This book is pencil rendering, rather than inked drawings". This is Kurbert, the artist and storyteller at work..This is his Maus (see the review).., It has power from his pencil drawing. I would stack this against any other war graphic novel from the Nam, Kubert's Sgt, Rock: Between A Rock and a Hard Place (see the review) to Maus as this is one of the best War fiction books

With such power, you would be foolish not to read this and see for yourself

Bennet Pomerantz AUDIOWORLD
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Adam P Boots on December 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Basically, Joe Kubert, the author and artist of this graphic, is doing a "what-if" story based on if his family did not make it to America when they originally left Poland. It works well as a historical peice because all of the things that happen in the story are based on interpretations of what COULD have happened to a young man in the Warsaw Ghetto. Additionally, the author makes the story very believable because Kubert looks at it from a VERY personal perspective in that it's a first person narrative. The graphics in this book are absolutely beautiful in their rough form. The pictures are reproduced to appear as pencil drawings, and the unfinished look and rough style of 50+ year comic veteran, Kubert, do nothing but enhance this already impressive story. His sketches are amazing. They're rough, but very detailed. They have such a human characteristic in their rendering, in that they're very detailed but also very 'flawed.' It makes them perfect for the story. They reflect the narrator's emotions and feelings throughout the story and also manage to change as the story goes on, as the narrator's views and beliefs change throughout the story.
This is basically what a graphic novel is SUPPOSED to be. A great story told through both pictures and words. It's also a heart-wrenching view into a very sad time and place in our history. Normally, I'd say that being a comic book fan would create a bias towards a graphic novel. This is not your average comic book/graphic novel. This is an amazing tale of heroism and sadness told through words and images. If you care at all about good, heartfelt storytelling, then you should purchase this Graphic Novel. It will not disappoint...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Bukowski on November 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Yossel is a young Jewish artist living a decent life in Poland with his family, until a horrendous event will forever change his life. This incredible book follows the story of an innocent Jews trying to survive the horrors of the Holocaust; from the terrible conditions of the Warsaw Ghetto to the inhumane and atrocious environment of the work camps.
The story is narrated by Yossel, and the captions are very moving; but the phenomenal illustrations is where the story really shines. Kubert opted to use only pencils to tell this story and the result is magnificent. The rough sketches help to establish a dour, dark tone and really add to the level of realism.
"Yossel" is highly recomended for people with an interest in WWII or the Holocaust, fans of movies such as "The Pianist", or anyone looking for a powerful, moving work of art.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jenny I. Andrus on July 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The themes of time and place are everywhere in this graphic novel. The author, Joe Kubert, a successful comic book artist, imagines what his life would have been like had his Jewish family not left Poland in 1926. Instead of growing up in the relative safety of the United States, drawing his favorite super heroes, Kubert's alter-ego Yossel sketches horrifying scenes from the Warsaw Ghetto. His parents and sister have been deported to a concentration camp, but his artistic skills impress the Nazis enough to temporarily save him from the same fate. When his former rabbi appears and tells what is really happening in the camps, Yossel and a ragged band of survivors turn on the Nazis and launch the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Yossel's sketches are made in the depth of the sewers, to which the ill-fated group has retreated to fight their last battle. Although Yossel is fictional, the leader of uprising is based on a real person. There are many novels for young adults about World War II, but this one is unforgettable, capturing through simple text and stark black and white drawings the despair of one teenage boy, who against insurmountable odds fights for survival in the Warsaw Ghetto. The book was written in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto and should be on every list of Holocaust literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Horatio Weisfeld on August 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Incredible graphic novel done entirely in pencil. Comics wizard Kubert imagines how his life might have worked out had his parents not fled Europe in time to escape the Nazi killers. Just as the artists intended: The story that leaves its haunting mark.
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Format: Hardcover
In response to Leucippe's review: "Yossel April 19, 1943" is a moving tribute to those who perished in the Warsaw Ghetto and in the concentration camps. It is even more moving if it is read keeping in mind the personal history of its author and the history of American comics.

From the start comics are alluded to, and it is acknowledged that the comics make life a little easier for people in Eastern Europe, who are facing war and occupation. The comics make them laugh. They give young Yossel inspiration and the determination to be an artist. They give him hope.

Yossel's ability to draw demonstrates the power of art. After his family is forced to live in the Warsaw Ghetto his drawing takes him away from the terrifying environment he is trapped in. It also gives him a form of escape in his talent being recognised by the German officers and their giving him food and gifts in exchange for his drawings. Over time the images of muscled heroes from his funny paper comics are replaced in his head and in his drawings by images of the people suffering and dying around him. There is no change of style in the pictures of Auschwitz because Yossel draws as he listens to the Rebbe: his drawings are Yossel's way of making himself see and understand what the Rebbe tells him. The German officers like Yossel's drawings because the muscled characters reflect for them the Nazi Ubermensch. All that is left of Yossel is his drawings, which the officers throw away. Yet the drawings are the book that faces the reader.

"If only your heroes were real, Yossel" says the group leader as the last of the resistance fighters huddle in the sewer, trying to escape the burning Ghetto. "If only this was a different world" Yossel answers.
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