Catherine's War

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Modern Age

Catherine's War
Author: Billet, Julia
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1942-1945
Geographic Area: Europe
Country: France
Topics: WWII, Jews in Hiding, Nazi Occupation
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Middle Grade
Format: Graphic Novel
Published: 2020

World History > Modern Age > WWII

* Winner of the Youth Prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival (voted by readers) * Winner of the Artémisia Prize for Historical Fiction * Winner of the Andersen Premio Prize *

A magnificent narrative inspired by a true survival story that asks universal questions about a young girl’s coming-of-age story, her identity, her passions, and her first loves.

At the Sèvres Children’s Home outside Paris, Rachel Cohen has discovered her passion—photography. Although she hasn’t heard from her parents in months, she loves the people at her school, adores capturing what she sees in pictures, and tries not to worry too much about Hitler’s war. But as France buckles under the Nazi regime, danger closes in, and Rachel must change her name and go into hiding.

As Catherine Colin, Rachel Cohen is faced with leaving the Sèvres Home—and the friends she made there—behind. But with her beautiful camera, Catherine possesses an object with the power to remember. For the rest of the war, Catherine bears witness to her own journey, and to the countless heroes whose courage and generosity saved the lives of many, including her own.

Based on the author’s mother’s own experiences as a hidden child in France during World War II, Catherine’s War is one of the most accessible historical graphic novels featuring a powerful girl since Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi—perfect for fans of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Anne Frank, or Helen Keller.

Includes a map and photographs of the real Catherine and her wartime experiences, as well as an interview with author Julia Billet.

Emily's Review

This book was unputdownable! Such a beautiful and emotional story. I love that the author based this story on her mother's experiences during the war. I love reading different accounts of life during WWII, particularly those of Jewish people. This one focuses on one French girl's experiences in hiding. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to not only be separated from your family but also moved from place to place, constantly having to maintain a different identity and ever-changing backstory just to survive. The strength and perseverance these children must have had just to keep going. It was good to read about so many people willing to risk their lives to save as many children as they could.

I loved reading about the school she was staying in as well, not only because the people running it were amazing and heroic, but because the school itself sounded fascinating! I also really enjoyed the way Rachel/Catherine used photography as a way to cope and heal from her experiences during the war.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one and highly recommend adding it to your stack if you are studying WWII!

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