Captain Rosalie by Timothée de Fombelle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Children's books about war can be very challenging. How do you portray the frustration, anger, loss and hurt of war without over doing it (and terrifying) small children?
Captain Rosalie comes at a WWII story from the eyes of a little girl who is waiting for her father to return home from service. Without a doubt, the most endearing part, of Timothee de Fombelle's story is that the little girl loves to hear her mother read out her father's letters. But little Rosalie is no slouch and begins to suspect that maybe her mother is not reading the real words or telling the whole truth. So Rosalie takes initiative, all on her own, to learn to read! (adorable right!?)
Fombelle does a wonderful job of creating and displaying the confusion Rosalie has over how far away the war is and if it will come to them directly. And so her desire to learn more about the war, and not just her mother's flowery words, is very fitting. The muted illustrations fit beautifully in with the setting and somber war time frame.
All is well until we reach the tragic ending which I feel is not well explained for children. As adults it makes sense to us that Rosalie's mother wasn't telling her the real story in the letters from her father. But to a child I think this would be quite confused. I'm not sure if it's lost in the translation of languages here or just not handled quite very well. However, Captain Rosalie can start a conversation with any child about the nature of war and why 'we', as a society, should try to avoid it. I could also see this being a good book to relate a true historical past to children today who may have had trauma already in their young lives (lost parent, refugee children, domestic violence, etc.) as it does tell the true story of Rosalie's father by the end.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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