The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature
Jules Ober, Felicity Coonan
Candlewick Studio, 2019
104pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99
From the publisher… “About one hundred years ago, the whole world went to war. The war was supposed to last months. It lasted years. It is Christmastime, 1914, and World War I rages. A young French soldier named Pierre had quietly left his regiment to visit his family for two days, and when he returned, he was imprisoned. Now he faces execution for desertion, and as he waits in isolation, he meditates on big questions: the nature of patriotism, the horrors of war, the joys of friendship, the love of family, and how even in times of danger, there is a whole world inside every one of us. And how sometimes that world is the only refuge. “
Published to coincide with the centenary of the Treaty of Versailles, one of five treaties formulated at the Paris Peace Conference as part of the peace negotiations at the end of the First World War, the readership of this book is older than what is normally reviewed for this site, despite its sparse text. However, it is a new and important addition to any collection about World War I and there will be primary school students who will appreciate the conceptual issues it raises as they become more aware of “the difficult truths of humanity”.
Written by a Frenchman now living in Australia, and illustrated by miniature reenactments of the scenes that have then been photographed, the book is the winner of 1st Prize at the Prix Sorcières 2019, France’s most prestigious award for children’s books. The story is based on true facts and its connection to the author and the illustrators and their processes have been detailed in the final pages.
Different, intriguing and utterly absorbing,