A New York Public Library Selection —
“Books For The Teen Age 2007”

An Austin Chronicle Best Book of 2006

“At a time when Holocaust denial is becoming an increasingly virulent weapon in the hands of anti-Semites, this poignant, evocative, visual and accessible day-to-day account of one family's walk through the valley of the shadow of death is a powerful counter-weapon. It should be read by young and old and passed on from generation to generation, as memories fade, survivorsdie and haters try to sow doubt.”
—Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Professor of Law

“This beautiful tribute to a mother's perseverance and determination to survive will keep this story alive, although the original storyteller died ten years ago: Lemelman transcribes the harrowing tale of his mother—daughter of Menachem Mendel—with black-and-white drawings that the artist intercuts with Gusta's photos and documents; the combination radiates with sadness, despair and, ultimately, hope.”
—Kirkus Review, Graphics Spotlight 2006

“Mendel's Daughter ... is a gritty eyewitness report on the great upheaval of eastern Europe in the 1930s and '40s, based on Lemelman's recordings of his mother in 1989; at the harshest moments, the reader can take a small bit of comfort that Gusta survived to live a long life in the U.S.A...a stark account of human weakness and fear, tragic missteps with fatal consequences, and unimaginable hardships as she survives for two years with two brothers in a hole in the ground.  Lemelman's subdued art gives the story its heart; with a combination of charcoal drawings and photographs, he creates a sense both of an almost mythical time gone by and the very real lives that were snuffed out.”
—Publisher's Weekly

“This is totally original, not to say moving, account of what happened to many Jewish families at this period of history. And there is, at times, a prayerlike quality to this account of Gusta's unbelievable courage and her unflinching perseverance...A mother's words and a son's illustrations have combined to create a work of rare sensitivity. Martin Lemelman has achieved the seemingly impossible — a children's book that tells of Jewish life in one of the darkest periods of their history. And equally, there is the triumphant note when the terrible storm has passed and Gusta has emerged free...This time she found a new life in America. This is a gripping story and one beautifully told and drawn.”
—The Express (U.K.)

“Lemelman is more prose illustrator than comic artist, eschewing balloons in favour of hand-written quotations, often separated from his pencil drawings and family photos. Its documentary style of focus makes it an affecting testimony by a mother and son.”
—Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

“Lemelman manages to convey the horror of the Holocaust in words and pictures, while keeping the story fresh and available to children of all ages, as well as adults who, one hopes, will read the book to and with them.”
—Atlanta Jewish Times

“In Mendel's Daughter, he tells us the stories he was told, hand-lettering his mother's words into narration, and pairing a few surviving old black-and-white photos with his own stark black-and-white art to turn that story into a graphic novel that is at turns elegiac and at others nostalgic.”
—Las Vegas Weekly

“Lemelman's straightforward presentation makes the devastation depicted all the more harrowing. ...Having re-told his mother's tale, it is no wonder Lemelman concludes this powerful volume with the words of the Passover Haggadah, "In every generation, one must look upon himself, as he personally came out of Egypt.”
—The Jewish Week (New York)

“Granted, Art Spiegelman's Maus series told a Holocaust story with comic book techniques. But Mendel's Daughter is distinguished by a straightforward approach to storytelling that doesn't rely on metaphor. Moreover, the work is extremely accessible for youngsters, who may otherwise not be able to imagine or understand the overwhelming jumble of events that are found in most Holocaust memoirs.”
—New Jersey Jewish News

“...This is perhaps one of the most important books on the Holocaust to be created within the last decade...Mendel’s Daughter would be an excellent way to educate middle school children on the Holocaust. In fact, I would go so far as to say it should be considered part of the educational fabric, like Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Lemelman has done an excellent job of honouring his mother’s memory, reinforcing the importance of history, and enhancing the understanding of the Holocaust to future generations.”

“On virtually every page Lemelman skillfully juxtaposes haunting pencil drawings, family photographs, and handwritten text, sans comicslike borders. He keeps intact Gusta's Jewish American dialect. His unique contribution to Holocaust literature will doubtless educe comparisons with Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus (1986), yet many may find Lemelman's more realist work more approachable, immediate, and, ultimately, unforgettable.”

“Mendel’s Daughter strides bravely...into Maus’s footprints and, against all odds, succeeds. Lemelman’s first novel, is a tender, faithful retelling of his mother’s Holocaust story. The routine details of shtetl life, family politics, brief moments of kindness amid devastating hardship, move us beyond clichés, beyond Good and Evil, to convey a powerful, tragic, human history. Ultimately—miraculously—about hope, not horror.”
—UPstreet magazine (UK)

“In this captivating story of one woman’s survival in Poland during World War II, Lemelman tells of his mother Gusta and how she and a few siblings managed to deal with a horrifying situation and survive…The real heart of the story is Gusta’s distinct way of speaking (the sprinkling of Yiddish words in her sentences), which Lemelman does a great job of reproducing. Her unique voice makes the reader wish she were in front of them telling her story personally. The paperback version includes an author interview and a reading group guide...Drawn in black and white and mixed with photographs and mementos of Gusta’s life, Mendel’s Daughter is a heartbreaking and fascinating story. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.”
—LibraryJournal.com  (Starred Review)

“Hardly a cheerful book, but a quite remarkable one is Mendel’s Daughter: A Memoir by Martin Lemelman whose pages are filled with pencil drawings by the author based on his mother’s telling of what it was like to be a Jew in 1930s Poland and her eventual escape from Nazi persecution. Any reviewer will tell you that there have been hundreds of books written about the Holocaust. They vary in quality, but this one is truly unique for its graphic approach to the history of that period and tragedy. As a piece of Jewish history, the book adds its message of an event beyond imagination.”

Sample Pages
Preliminary Art
Author Interview
Reader's Guide
About the Author
Picture of Gusta
Dialup | Broadband
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Gusta Remembers: Dialup | Broadband
Last updated September, 2006. © Martin Lemelman
Web inquiries to mcfeely@kutztown.edu