A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The Complete Maus presents a true story of survival during World War II and is set partially at the notorious concentration camp Auschwitz. It offers an opportunity to discuss the Holocaust and its aftermath.
The Complete Maus celebrates human resilience and the family bonds that sustain people even in the midst of great tragedy.
Positive Role Models
Vladek is a complicated person: clever, brave, and resourceful as a young man; neurotic, manipulative, and needy as an old man.
Violence & Scariness
The Complete Maus includes many instances of violence: shootings, hangings, poisoning, beatings, starvation, and much more. Sensitive readers should beware.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One of Vladek's girlfriends has a breakdown because he wants to leave her.
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Vladek refers to African Americans as "Schwartzers," a German word for blacks.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Artie smokes cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Art Spiegelman's The Complete Maus is a powerful graphic-novel memoir of the Holocaust that features disturbing content. Jews are drawn as anthropomorphic mice; Germans are cats, Poles as pigs. Characters are starved, beaten, shot, gassed, poisoned, and hanged. Others commit suicide. Sexual content is minimal. Adult characters smoke cigarettes.
Is It Any Good?
Some works of art change their medium forever, and this graphic memoir is a sterling example of a book that upended all expectations about what comics could accomplish. With a sharp eye and skillful hands, Art Spiegelman tells the story of his father in two time periods, each rendered with powerful emotion. Even though they wear the heads of mice, cats, dogs, and pigs, the characters are all recognizably human in their struggles to survive in the midst of war and terror. Mature readers can learn much about how the Holocaust affected three generations of Europeans.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.