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Catherine's War
Cover of Catherine's War
Catherine's War
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"A shining story of a young girl who struggles to come of age and find her place in a world fraught with danger." —Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hitler Youth* Winner...
"A shining story of a young girl who struggles to come of age and find her place in a world fraught with danger." —Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hitler Youth* Winner...
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Description-

  • "A shining story of a young girl who struggles to come of age and find her place in a world fraught with danger." —Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hitler Youth

    * Winner of the Youth Prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival (voted by readers) * Winner of the Artémisia Prize for Historical Fiction * Winner of the Andersen Premio Prize *

    A magnificent narrative inspired by a true survival story that asks universal questions about a young girl's coming of age story, her identity, her passions, and her first loves.

    At the Sèvres Children's Home outside Paris, Rachel Cohen has discovered her passion—photography. Although she hasn't heard from her parents in months, she loves the people at her school, adores capturing what she sees in pictures, and tries not to worry too much about Hitler's war. But as France buckles under the Nazi regime, danger closes in, and Rachel must change her name and go into hiding.

    As Catherine Colin, Rachel Cohen is faced with leaving the Sèvres Home—and the friends she made there—behind. But with her beautiful camera, Catherine possesses an object with the power to remember. For the rest of the war, Catherine bears witness to her own journey, and to the countless heroes whose courage and generosity saved the lives of many, including her own.

    Based on the author's mother's own experiences as a hidden child in France during World War II, Catherine's War is one of the most accessible historical graphic novels featuring a powerful girl since Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi—perfect for fans of Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, Anne Frank, or Helen Keller.

    Includes a map and photographs of the real Catherine and her wartime experiences, as well as an interview with author Julia Billet.

    "Many of the settings are beautifully detailed, and the characters undeniably expressive. Catherine's ability to find beauty in the world makes for a forward-looking read." Booklist *(starred review)*

    "This story will make readers want to join the Resistance. Characters are drawn so vividly that, long afterward, readers will remember their names." —Kirkus

    An Indie Next List Pick!

    *A Junior Library Guild selection*

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Julia Billet is an acclaimed French novelist and author of short stories, children's books, and poetry. Her award-winning La Guerre de Catherine (Rue de Sèvres, 2012) was published in the United States as Catherine's War in January 2020.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    October 1, 2019
    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)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 25, 2019
    Billet’s emotive historical graphic novel portrays a Jewish girl forced to hide her identity during the Nazi occupation of France. When Rachel Cohen’s school outside Paris becomes unsafe, the aspiring photographer changes her name to Catherine Colin and forsakes any expression of her Jewish identity. Before being whisked away by the French resistance, Catherine’s teacher asks her to take pictures of the war (“We’ll need these testimonies”). After, she lives an itinerant life, traveling from a Catholic boarding school in Saint-Eustache to a peasant farm near Limoges and later to an orphanage in the Pyrenees. Though fear and trauma haunt the country, Catherine encounters the selflessness and sacrifice of strangers, becoming a selfless and generous young woman in the process. Fauvel’s earth-toned illustrations
    feature expressive faces alongside panels of photographs being developed, which prove moving as they become visible alongside other characters’ disappearances. While no scenes from the war are portrayed, violent episodes do occur. Thoughtful meditations on the importance of art and shared connection combine with historical fact to make Catherine’s journey feel relevant. Ages 8–12.

  • School Library Journal

    December 6, 2019

    Gr 7 Up-Billet has crafted a pictorial paean to the everyday heroes of Vichy France, as seen through the eyes-and camera lens-of a Jewish teen. Rachel Cohen's story begins in 1942 at the Sèvres Children's Home outside Paris, where students separated from their parents direct their own education. As Nazi deportations increase, the school's Jewish residents must flee. Rachel assumes a new identity-Catherine Colin-and hides in plain sight. Aided by those she meets on her journey, "Catherine" travels from Sèvres to a monastery in Riom, a family farm in Limoges, an orphanage in the Pyrenees, and a second small farm before finally returning to a liberated Paris in the hope of reuniting with her parents. Along the way, her beloved Rolleiflex camera documents her story one snapshot at a time. Adapted from a novel based on Billet's mother's wartime experiences, this tale vividly renders a period that might seem removed to younger readers. Almost every panel-especially those inspired by real photographs-could stand alone as a work of art. From the subtle motion lines and detailed facial expressions to intricately composed scenes and dramatic backdrops, Fauvel's ink and watercolor illustrations are masterly. This brief book will leave readers wishing they could spend more time among the torrent of settings and characters. VERDICT A remarkable tribute to the generosity, compassion, and courage of ordinary people who endanger themselves to do right, as well as those who capture glimpses of light in the darkness.-Steven Thompson, Sadie Pope Dowdell Library, South Amboy, NJ

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from November 15, 2019
    Grades 4-7 *Starred Review* Billet tells the story of Catherine Colin, born Rachel Cohen, and her experiences as a Jewish girl living in France during WWII in this graphic novel originally published in French and adapted from Billet's novel of the same name. Catherine's story begins in a progressive school where she learns about and acquires a passion for photography. As the Germans gain a stronger hold on France, Catherine is forced to move throughout the country to evade capture, but she meets many supportive friends along the way. The lyrical translation reads like a memoir, and it is, in fact, based on Billet's mother's experience as one of the hidden children of WWII. Catherine is always looking for opportunities to photograph people, and illustrations of her photographs appear often throughout the book. In Fauvel's artwork, many of the settings are beautifully detailed, with a muted palette that helps evoke the bleak circumstances and landscape, and while the characters receive less definition, they're undeniably expressive. The ravages of WWII are not glossed over (readers learn of people who go missing, never to be heard from again, and see people with missing limbs, though not in particularly graphic detail), but Catherine's ability to find beauty in the world regardless makes for a forward-looking read. An author's note sifts fact from fiction, and a few photos are reproduced in the back matter.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

  • Booklist (starred review) "Many of the settings are beautifully detailed...and the characters undeniably expressive. Catherine's ability to find beauty in the world makes for a forward-looking read."
  • School Library Journal (starred review) "Billet has crafted a pictorial paean to the everyday heroes of Vichy France, as seen through the eyes—and camera lens—of a Jewish teen...Almost every panel—especially those inspired by real photographs—could stand alone as a work of art...Fauvel's ink and watercolor illustrations are masterly."
  • Kirkus Reviews "This story will make readers want to join the Resistance...Characters are drawn so vividly that, long afterward, readers will remember their names."
  • Publishers Weekly "Thoughtful meditations on the importance of art and shared connection combine with historical fact to make Catherine's journey feel relevant."
  • Horn Book Magazine "Though the story covers Rachel/Catherine's adolescence, the smoothly translated text is clear..and gentle enough...to be comprehensible to readers younger than the character. The back matter is pitched to explain this story's context to young people with little or no background knowledge about WWII or the Holocaust."

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