CATHERINE'S WAR by Julia Billet


by ; illustrated by ; translated by
Age Range: 8 - 12
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This story will make readers want to join the Resistance.

In 1942 France, Rachel calls the people who run the Children’s Home where she lives by animal names—Seagull, Penguin, Shrew—to keep their real names hidden from the Nazis. As the Nazis add more and more restrictions against Jews, Rachel must change her identity also, to Catherine. Catherine, unlike Rachel, is allowed to eat pork. The expression on her face as she tries it for the first time is nearly glowing. In a lovely three-panel sequence, Fauvel captures each tiny shift in emotion. Her ability to show complex feelings with the smallest possible strokes of ink is remarkable, and Billet has given her memorable scenes to draw, such as a sequence in which students are drilled on their new names, over and over, in a classroom exercise. Her skill at staging a scene helps the book survive its main flaw: There are too many characters, and they arrive and depart too quickly. In another book, this might have been a virtue, creating a nightmarish sense of chaos, but here it simply makes the plot feel rushed. In this claustrophobic wartime setting, the characters are all white and frequently Jewish.

Characters are drawn so vividly that, long afterward, readers will remember their names. (Graphic historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-06-291560-3
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2019


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