books & ideas / new titles / A Bag of Marbles: The Graphic Novel

A Bag of Marbles: The Graphic Novel

Written by Joseph Joffo | Illustrated by Vincent Bailly | August 2013
A Bag of Marbles
Graphic Universe | August 2013

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 that will change their lives forever. With the German occupation threatening their family's safety, the boys' parents decide Maurice and Joseph must disguise themselves and flee to their older brothers in the free zone. Surviving the long journey will take every scrap of ingenuity and courage they can muster. And if they hope to elude the Nazis, they must never, under any circumstances, admit to being Jewish. The boys travel by train, by ferry, and on foot, facing threats from strangers and receiving help from unexpected quarters. Along the way they must adapt to the unfamiliar world beyond their city—and find a way to be true to themselves even as they conceal their identities. Based on an autobiographical novel by Joseph Joffo and adapted with the author’s input, this true story offers a harrowing but inspiring glimpse of a childhood cut short.


Joseph Joffo was born in Paris in the 18th arrondissement. He left school at 14 with a certificat d'études (a former school leaving certificate, taken at the end of primary education) in his pocket and joined his brothers in the family's barber shop. His memoirs, A Baf of Marbles has been translated into eighteen languages.


Article originally published by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States on frenchculture.org.

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