Alice Hoffman’s new book will imagine Anne Frank’s life before she kept a diary

Books-Anne Frank Novel
This photo provided by Scholastic Inc. shows the cover of “When We Flew Away: A Novel of Anne Frank Before the Diary,” written by best-selling author Alice Hoffman. (Scholastic Inc. via AP)

With the cooperation of the Anne Frank House, a novel based on Frank’s life immediately before she began keeping a diary will be released in September by the children’s publisher Scholastic.

“When We Flew Away: A Novel of Anne Frank Before the Diary,” written by bestselling author Alice Hoffman, is scheduled for Sept. 17.

The project was initiated by Scholastic editors Lisa Sandell and Miriam Farbey, who thought Hoffman ideal for telling the story. Hoffman is known for “Practical Magic” and other fiction about sorcery, but she also has written books for young people and a novel, “The World That We Knew,” about the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews.

“In the year when I was 12, I discovered many of the books that have meant the most to me, books that changed my life,” Hoffman said in a statement issued Thursday by Scholastic.

“The book that affected me more than any other was ‘The Diary of a Young Girl,’ by Anne Frank. It changed the way I looked at the world. It changed the person I was and the person I would become,” she said in the statement. “I wondered what Anne’s life had been like before the diary, and what had caused her to become the writer whose voice spoke for a generation of those whose lives were ruined or ended by the Nazi occupation, a voice that will never allow us to forget what had happened.”

Hoffman drew upon archival research, including some provided by the Anne Frank House, in writing about the Netherlands in the early 1940s after the Nazis invaded. In July 1942, a month after 13-year-old Anne started her diary, the Franks went into hiding in the annex of her father’s office building in Amsterdam. She continued writing until August 1944, when the Franks were discovered by the Nazis. Anne and her sister Margot were eventually deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died in 1945. Their father, Otto, was the only family member to survive the war.

Anne Frank’s diary was discovered by Miep Gies, an employee of Otto Frank who had helped the family while they were hiding. After the war, she gave the diary to Otto Frank, who first published it in Dutch in 1947. “The Diary of Anne Frank” has since been translated into dozens of languages and sold millions of copies.

According to Scholastic, Hoffman’s novel will dramatize how “state-sponsored discrimination turns ordinary people into monsters, the Jews in the Netherlands are caught in an inescapable swell of violence and hate, and Anne is shaped as both a young woman and as a writer who will change the world” through her private journal.

“We can highly recommend Alice Hoffman’s novel of Anne Frank’s life, set in the dramatic and terrible circumstances of those first war years. We hope it will persuade young readers that contributing to a better world is both necessary and possible,” Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House, based in Amsterdam, said in a statement.

Other novels have been written about Anne Frank, including Ellen Feldman’s “The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank,” although without the participation of the Anne Frank House. Projects endorsed by the Frank House include Forget Me Not,” a children’s book about Anne Frank’s friends that was written by Janny van der Molen, and a graphic biography of Anne Frank, written by Sid Jacobson and illustrated by Ernie Colón.