Reviews

Catherine's War by Claire Fauvel, Julia Billet

alejandrasmith4's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional inspiring reflective sad tense fast-paced

4.5

violabaldwin's review against another edition

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4.0

Absolutely beautifully told and illustrated. I am a huge fan of Claire Fauvel's work and for her to team up with the writer Julia Billet showed Claire's strength in depicting touching and serious topics with beautiful delicacy and sensitivity.
Wonderful graphic novel, very touching, suitable for all ages. I really appreciate the context and explanations of background info for France at this point in history at the end of the book, too.
Can't wait to see more of Claire Fauvel's work.

jcarvajal23's review against another edition

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4.0

4.5 ⭐️’s

I loved everything about this. Great middle grade graphic novel about WWII in France.

bet27's review against another edition

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3.0

(more 3.5 stars)

febnalae's review against another edition

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emotional sad medium-paced

4.0

mat_tobin's review against another edition

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4.0

A fascinating story which began life as a novel first and has now been deftly transformed into a graphic novel format through the hands of the author, Billet, illustrator Fauvel and translator Hahnenberger. It is, in part, a loose, biographical retelling of moments from Billet's own mother's life during World War 2 in France.

Our protagonist, Rachel Cohen (based upon Tamo Cohen) is enrolled at a school for children by her Jewish parents who perhaps sensed an impending unease with Germany's oncoming occupation. She makes good friends here and develops a passion for photography through the headmistresses' husband, Penguin. He passes on his Rolleiflex camera to Rachel and teaches her how to develop film. Rachel decides, at this point, to document life at the school and sees to have a natural gift for the medium.

Soon though, Nazi rule threatens her life and those of the other Jewish children at the school and although they all agree to change their names (Rachel becomes Catherine Colin), it is not enough and 'Catherine' is sent away to live upon a farm. For a while she is safe here and falls in love with Étienne who shares her passion for film and photography. Yet the constricting Nazi occupation continues and Rachel must move on again and again. Eventually though, enough families take her in and care for her and she is able to avoid the war altogether. As soon as it is safe, she heads home to Paris in the hope of finding her parents.

I loved how the Rolleiflex was central to the reader's view of the world through Rachel/Catherine's eyes. It help to heighten and highlight the human connection throughout. Fauvel's gorgeous watercolour and ink artwork (as well as some digital rendering perhaps) brought a particular sense of beauty to the book and I loved how Rachel herself was always surrounded by an outline of white as if cut-out from her own memories. At times I felt the narrative jolted a little but I wondered if this was mirroring Rachel's own displacement. A useful closing comment from the author, as well as a montage of photos of some of the people in the story, made the truth behind the telling here for all the more real. More than suitable for Y6.

allisonmenck's review against another edition

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emotional inspiring reflective slow-paced

4.0

msgabbythelibrarian's review against another edition

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3.0

Let me get something out of the way--how this graphic novel was written bothered me. It was hard to tell what was dialogue, what was text for the sake of the narrative....I thought it would all flow better but I was mistaken.

Still, this was a quick but gripping graphic novel set in WWII era France. Rachel is Jewish and as such, for her protection, she can no longer be Rachel. So she becomes Catherine. In the only element of consistency, Catherine is drawn to photography. Photos that capture light and darkness, happiness and sorrow, the people who have made an impact in her life.

This book is inspired by a true story, which I found super cool. It's also a strong female story which I appreciate. Additionally, it's a quick read, perfect for middle grade. I wouldn't say it was my favorite graphic novel to tackle a tough topic but I would recommend it!

arrrgh_schooling's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional hopeful inspiring sad fast-paced

5.0

h_373489's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging emotional informative inspiring reflective sad fast-paced

4.5