A Bag of Marbles

The Graphic Novel

Illustrator: Vincent Bailly

Binding: Paperback

Imprint: Graphic Universe - Lerner Publishing Group

Age 12+

Graphic Novels Comic Strip Fiction / Graphic Novels

Based on an autobiographical novel by Joseph Joffe and adapted with the author's input. In 1941 in occupied Paris, brothers Maurice and Joseph play a last game of marbles before running home to their father's barbershop. This is the day their life takes a big tum, as two SS officers enter the shop without realising the owner, and in fact most of the customers, are Jewish. The effects of the Occupation begin to impinge on the family's lives, and their parents decide the boys must disguise themselves and flee to their older brothers in the free zone. The scene where his father teaches ten-year-old Joseph never to admit that he's Jewish is particularly harrowing. The journey by train, ferry, and on foot requires ingenuity and teamwork to elude the Nazis; there are threats from strangers and help from unexpected quarters. Joseph's caution and resourcefulness contrasts with the sometimes reckless bravery of the older Maurice, who, after their guide deposits them helpless in the middle of the woods to find the route themselves, takes on the task of escorting other groups of refugees.


Joseph Joffo was born in Paris in 1931. He is the author of several books, but he is best known for his memoir A Bag of Marbles, published in 1973. It has been translated into eighteen languages, and in 1975 it was adapted to film. Like many of Joffo's books, A Bag of Marbles was based on his life story. After the war Joseph, his mother, and his brothers returned safely to Paris. His father died in a concentration camp.

Vincent Bailly was born in 1967 in Nancy, France and went on to study at the School of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg in the studio of Claude Lapointe (Clap). In 1991, he created illustration work for publishers Nathan, Coprur, and Bastberg. His career really launched in 1995 when he illustrated the graphic novel series Le Creur de sang. Since 2000, he has taught illustration and comics at the National School of Applied Arts and Image (ENAAI).

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