The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. By Art Spiegelman. (1996). New York: Pantheon Books.

Plot Summary
Maus is the story of one family’s survival and suffering through the Holocaust and beyond. In his own story, Art Spiegelman details how he learns of his father Vladek’s past, and attempts to tell it the best way he can. The story begins at the turning point for Jews living in Poland during World War I, and like a quick fist, the Nazi movement sweeps right through. The family must contend with every awful element known about the Holocaust, from documentation to separation, concentration camps, and utter loss.

Critical Evaluation

This is no sugar-coated story, and some of the characters do not make it through, though we know that Vladek lives on into the present. Yet the story is impossible to turn away from, and there is a great depth of feeling experienced through the reading of the novel.
Comic books have traditionally held much lighter fare, and were designed as such, but Maus is stark in its design, fully completed in black and white.

This edition includes both volumes of Maus, “My Father Bleeds History,” and, “And Here My Troubles Began.”

Reader’s Annotation

An easy read about an extremely difficult subject, Maus is the story of one family’s struggle through the Holocaust, and the resounding echo of the resultant suffering, as it passes throughout their family.
About the Author Art Spiegelman was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1948. It was his parents’ wish for him to become a dentist, but at the age of 16, he already had an aptitude for art, and he began to draw professionally. He studied art and philosophy at Harpur College, and after joining the underground comics movement, he taught history and comics at The School for Visual Arts in New York. In 1980, Spiegelman founded RAW, a comics magazine, with his wife. He was a staff writer and artist for The New Yorker from 1999-2003. In addition to a Pulitzer Prize for Maus, Spiegelman is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children. 

Retrieved from


-Graphic Novel

Curriculum Ties

-The Holocaust

-Holocaust Survivors

-World War II


* Teacher’s Guide available at
Booktalking Ideas

-Family Secrets and Histories
-Holocaust Survivors

Reading Level/Interest Age

Challenge Issues

While arguments are strong for keeping Maus available in libraries, some have criticized the graphic representation of the races within the comic, though this issue is addressed in the work itself. As a whole, Maus is not supportive of racial stereotyping or the works of Hitler, in any way. The storytelling devices which Spiegelman utilizes function, in many ways, as political satire; a job often reserved for cartoons.

Comics have often been written off as for-entertainment-only, but Maus challenges this concept entirely. In fact, the genesis of the term “graphic novel” is partly attributed to the creation of Maus, because the content differs so much from that of traditional “action hero” comics.

Many reluctant readers won’t hesitate to pick up a comic book or graphic novel, and Maus is one that is sufficiently challenging, as well as thought-provoking.
Why Did You Include This Book?

Art Spiegeman won a Pulitzer Prize for Maus, in 1992. The title can be used across the curriculum, in art, history, and literature. It is also a great choice for reluctant readers, as it has high interest levels with real literary merit.

(Maus Vol 1)

Best Books:

Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Tenth Edition, 1988 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 1988 ; Nominee; Colorado
Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award , 1997-1998 ; Nominee; Indiana
(Maus Vol. 2) 

Best Books:

Best Books for Youth, 1992 ; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
Best of the Best Revisited (100 Best Books for Teens), 2001 ; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
Booklist Editors’ Choice: Adult Books for Young Adults, 1991 ; American Library Association; United States
Outstanding Books for the College Bound, 2002 ; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 1997 ; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
“graphic novels”  The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Edited by Dinah Birch. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  San Jose State University.  Retrieved  December 9th, 2010  from

About thesuperlibrarian

High School Librarian and obsessive reader! On a mission to read as many SUPER YA books as possible!
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