Captain Rosalie is a book for older children by French author and playwright, Timothee de Fombelle. It is beautifully illustrated in watercolour, pen and ink by Isabelle Arsenault and translated from French by Sam Gordon. The recommended reader age is 8-12 years.
It’s the fall of 1917, and Rosalie is five and a half. She’s too young for her village school, but since her mum has to work at the factory, the teacher lets her sit at the back of the class of older children. What no one realises is that she’s on a secret mission.
In carrying out that secret mission, (to learn to read) so she can find out what her father has really written in his letters (and learn the fate her mother can’t bring herself to tell), she does discover she has a loyal friend, and that many more people than just her mother care about her. In fact, the whole village cares about her.
This is a book that illustrates for children the awful consequences of war. For Rosalie, these include her mother having to work at the factory so they have enough to live on, the teacher having lost an arm in the war, and her father being killed in combat, for which she must console herself with the knowledge of his bravery, to which the shiny medal attests. Sad and poignant, but with a valuable lesson for young readers.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Candlewick Press.