Hidden Hope: How a Toy and a Hero Saved Lives During the Holocaust

by Elisa Boxer (Author) Amy June Bates (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

The remarkable true story of how a toy duck smuggled forged identity papers for Jewish refugees during WWII

During World War II, a social worker named Jacqueline bicycled through the streets of Paris, passing Nazi soldiers and carrying a toy duck to share with the children she visited. What the Nazis didn't know, however, was that Jacqueline wasn't a social worker at all, but a Jewish member of the French Resistance.

Families across Europe went into hiding as the Nazis rounded up anyone Jewish. The Star of David, a symbol of faith and pride, became a tool of hate when the Nazis forced people to wear the star on their clothing and carry papers identifying them as Jewish, so that it was clear who to arrest. But many brave souls dared to help them.

Jacqueline was one of them. She risked her life in secret workshops, where forgers created false identity papers. But how to get these life-saving papers to families in hiding? The toy duck held the answer.

Written by award-winning journalist Elisa Boxer and movingly illustrated by the acclaimed Amy June Bates, Hidden Hope, a true story, celebrates everyday heroism, resilience, the triumph of the human spirit, and finding hope in unexpected places.

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Starred Review
With extensive back matter supporting both the author's and the illustrator's work, this is a harrowing account of one girl's bravery and a compelling assurance for youth that everyone has a potential hero within.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 4-6--It's World War II, and the Nazis have crossed into France to round up Jewish people. With most Jews fearing the threat of concentration camps and death, a few brave people have stepped up and joined a secret society called the French Resistance. The goal of the resistance was to create documents with fake names, birth dates, families, and religious affiliations. Smuggling those papers became a full-time job for one young girl named Jacqueline Gauthier, a French Christian. Her tenacity at smuggling these papers from place to place was impressive to the Jewish people. She accomplished it all on her bike, through the use of a wooden toy duck with a hollowed-out center. Despite nearly being caught many times, Gauthier persisted. Many Jews pondered what her motivation was in helping them; if they only knew her secrets, they would understand. Accompanying the almost poetic text, where truncated sentences add immediacy, are moody, atmospheric full-page watercolor, pencil, and gouache illustrations, softly done in teal, browns, and orange, that well portray the terror of living during this era. Gauthier and all characters are white. VERDICT An important true account to add to all collections. Gauthier's inspiring story will spur on anyone who doubts just how much difference one young person can truly make.--Tracy Cronce

Copyright 2023 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Abrams Books for Young Readers
Publication date
March 20, 2023
BISAC categories
HIS027100 - History | Military | World War II
Library of Congress categories
World War, 1939-1945
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
Underground movements
Equipment and supplies
Geller, Judith

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