04 Feb Review: The Prisoner and the Writer (Edited for correction)
The Prisoner and the Writer
by Heather Camlot; illustrated by Sophie Casson
Groundwood Books, 2022
ISBN: 9781773066325 (hardcover with jacket)
ISBN: 9781773066332 (eBook)
$14.99 CAD (hardcover)
$12.99 CAD (eBook)
Ages: 9 to 12 years old, Grade 4 to 8
Review by Katharina (Tina) Hausen
This illustrated nonfiction picture book is written in verse and is based on a true story. The story took place at the turn of the 19th century. Alfred Dreyfus, finds himself in a jail in South America, wrongfully accused of treason against France. A famous writer, Emile Zola pens a letter in his defense, well aware that he could lose everything he has worked and lived for by doing so. By speaking out, Emile is also put in prison. However, his letter brings attention to the case, and with time, Alfred is given back his title as captain, and his freedom. The illustrations are oil pastel monoprints with added soft pastel. Backmatter includes an author’s note and further historical context, which illustrates how the content of the story is very relevant today. A difficult read and a difficult topic, but well worth the effort. The content may be a little difficult for the recommended age range proposed by the publishers.
The following review was re-issued to correct factual errors in a past issue. Alfred Dreyfus was not a sea captain, Emile Zola was not imprisoned, and did not “lose everything”, and Zola also died many years after the Dreyfus Affair, rather than immediately, as was proposed in the previous review.