Friday 2 November 2018

ReadItDaddy's Third Book of the Week - Week Ending 2nd November 2018: "Captain Rosalie" by Timothee De Fombelle, Isabelle Arsenault and Sam Gordon (Walker Books)

Oh my, I don't think either of us were quite ready for this book...a beautifully presented tale that will rip your heart in two.
Set at the beginning of World War 1, the story centres around a little girl whose father has enlisted, and been posted to the front.

Rosalie has assigned herself an important role. She's no longer a cute little flame-haired girl, she is brave Captain Rosalie - and her secret (not so secret) mission is one that many children will undertake during their early years.

Captain Rosalie is going to learn to read.

As her mother receives letters from the front from her husband, she tells Rosalie that her father misses her, and can't wait to come home and go trout fishing with her.

Rosalie tucks herself into the coats at the back of a school class meant for older kids. She studies hard every day, learning the letters and words that will take her further along in her mission.

Isabelle Arsenault's artwork is utterly, utterly gorgeous, accompanying this heart-wrenching story perfectly
Then one day something happens that will change Rosalie's life forever. We can't reveal what that something is - though you may second-guess it, but it's what happens in the aftermath of it - and what happens when Rosalie finally learns to read (so beautifully described by Timothee and Sam as being like a mist lifting as Rosalie can decipher words and phrases finally) and reads her father's letters for herself.

This is one of the most powerful and affecting books about the impact that war has on children that we've read in this, the centenary year of the end of World War 1.

Timothee's story is beautifully translated by Sam Gordon so that it loses none of the original story's impact, with the most stunning illustrations from super-talented Isabelle Arsenault, it will break your heart without a doubt - but there are so many moments in this where you feel like either cheering for Rosalie, or gathering her up in your arms for a cuddle.

Oh boy, we need more tissues, I think we've run out.

C's best bit: The dramatic final closing scenes when Rosalie goes missing. Heart-stoppingly exciting and nerve racking.

Daddy's favourite bit: This book will take you on an emotional journey, jabbing you right in the feels at every opportunity. But Timothee is making a powerful and effective statement here about the cost of war not just on the soldiers who fight and die for their cause, but on those left behind. There's powerful stuff in here too about the 'little white lies' we tell our kids to protect them from hurt and heartache. A book we just couldn't stop thinking about for weeks after we'd read and re-read it.

"Captain Rosalie" by Timothee De Fombelle, Isabelle Arsenault and Sam Gordon is out now, published by Walker Books (kindly supplied for review).