The Search is a graphic novel, translated from the Dutch original.  It has proved popular with teenage readers as it moves at a dramatic pace.  Daniel’s Gran, Esther, visits the Dutch farm where she was hidden from the Nazis.  She hopes to discover what happened to the other people she once knew, those who helped her escape and those who were also in hiding.  She knows that her parents were murdered in Auschwitz but nothing else.  Her grandson uses the internet to track down an old friend and other histories emerge.  Esther talks to her friend Helena and Helena remembers a book of pictures.

If your students find this book helpful a parallel text by the same team A Family Secret, tells stories of the same period through the eyes of Helena, Esther’s friend. Both books introduce students to difficult issues, such as discrimination, death camps, collaboration with the Nazis and the actions and choices made by individual people.

Discussion Questions

  1. what evidence can you find in the pictures that the Nazis were able to focus on difficulties in order to persuade ordinary people to follow them?
  1. why did Esther’s mum become angry when she saw the Nazi slogans?
  1. Esther’s Father makes predictions linked with what he saw taking place. How was he proved wrong?
  1. what changes were made in 1933 and how did Esther’s neighbours react to these changes? How did things become even worse by 1935?
  1. why did Esther and her family move to Holland?  Were they safe there?
  1. what order, given in May 1942, which made Esther really unhappy?
  1. how does Esther, now an old woman, feel about the actions of Jeroen’s great-grandfather?
  1. think about the people whop helped Esther and those who did not.  Suggest reasons for them taking the actions described.
  2. what did Esther find out about her family and friends after liberation?
  1. how do we know that Esther feels both joy and pain when she is reunited with Bob?
  1. why did Bob have to pretend to be 16?
  1. what did Bob witness the Nazis do with the evidence of their crimes?
  1. why was the item found by Helena so special and why did it make Esther both happy and sad?
  1. how can the internet become a powerful tool to help us explore the past?

You can download the PDF version of the Search book activity.