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Book-ban Spurs Donation

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A GNS Middle School Student has contributed a book to the school after hearing about a book-ban elsewhere.

In early January, a Tennessee school board banned the graphic novel, Maus, by Art Spiegelman, which depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. The book portrays Jewish people as mice and Nazis as cats. 

The graphic novel is available in the Senior School Learning Commons but was not in the David Graham Learning Commons because the recommended reader’s age is 13 or over. Grade 8 student Duncan Marshall thought it was something that should be easily accessible in the Middle School and decided to donate his copy. He originally read the book two years ago but went back to it again after hearing the news that it was banned in Tennessee. 

“I’ve read the book. It’s a very noble book and very important to history in general,” said Duncan. “Seeing somebody illustrate their story through artwork of the Holocaust, I thought it was very noble.”

After re-reading the book, Duncan said it inspired his character choice for Gallery of Fame, a Grade 8 project that includes students doing detailed research that enables them to take on the persona of an important figure from history. Duncan chose Witold Pelecki, a Polish resistance fighter who volunteered to go to and escape from Auschwitz to learn the truth about the what was happening in the camp. 

“I re-read the book to get a feel for the Holocaust because being this character, I thought it was appropriate to understand as much as I could about the situation, and that’s how I tied it into my study,” he explained, noting it’s a situation that he can never fully understand, but the graphic novel helps provide some insight. 

“It talks about the son’s story and how his son has to deal with the emotions because his father wasn’t there for him in the way he needed. His father was left changed afterward, and it deals with that very well,” he said. 

After researching and then portraying Pelecki for Gallery Fame, Duncan said it was nice to be able to share his knowledge with his peers. 

“It was nice to share the story,” he said. “The character specifically was buried by the Soviet Union because he opposed the communist regime, so all these new facts and books about him are coming out after the fall of the Soviet Union, and I wanted people to know more about them because I feel there is a lack of role models like him and I wanted to tell a new story they might not have heard.” 

The book is now available at the David Graham Learning Commons for Middle School students to check out. 

Thank you, Duncan, for making this resource available to your peers and for showing compassion and empathy for those who experienced the Holocaust.