'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Review: Captain Rosalie

Rosalie is a red-haired, clever and intuitive child of five and a half years. She has no other memory than that of war and her father away fighting. 

Camouflaged at the back of the class, she has become a grey coat hooked amongst the others. She is watched over by the one-armed schoolmaster, who reads the class only the happy news from the daily print. There she sits every day while her mother works in the munitions factory.

Secretly she imagines herself a soldier on a mission; one that only she knows about. But it isn’t drawings that fill her notebook. It is the string of letters that appear on the blackboard that Rosalie hoards and whispers to herself time after time.

Rosalie’s favourite time of day is when her mother comes home tired and limp from work, and lies on her bed to read Papa’s letters to her.

Then comes the letter in the blue envelope and everything changes. The light disappears from her mother’s eyes. Her feet shuffle. Her head stays bent low.

The day Rosalie’s mission is complete, she makes her move. The letters she has followed on the blackboard for so long can now be strung into words that make sense. The box with her father’s letters speaks to her. One at a time she opens them and finds none of the words her mother had read to her. Instead the words speak of despair, pain, longing and death.

But the blue envelope is not there. Her search to uncover its whereabouts and its content is fruitless. Until she thinks of the only place it belongs.

A story of sadness and loss, courage and resilience, and the need to protect those we love is played out in Timothee De Fombelle’s strangely beautiful and deeply moving book on the results of war. Lyrical prose provides poetic, vivid images of the conflicting emotions experienced by the main characters.

Once again Isabelle Arsenault’s magnificent depictions stir the blood, and force us to again question the senselessness of war.

Title: Captain Rosalie
Author: Timothee De Fombelle
Illustrator: Isabelle Arsenault
Publisher: Walker Books, $19.99
Publication Date: November 2018
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781406377101
For ages: 8+
Type: Junior Fiction