The Eleventh Hour

Jacques Goldstyn, trans. from the French by Anne Louise Mahoney. Owlkids, $19.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-77147-348-4
This fictionalized historical tale by cartoonist Goldstyn (Letters to a Prisoner) tells the story of the very last Canadian soldier to die in WWI. Friends Jules and Jim grow up together in a small town. Jim is the leader: “Jules was always two minutes behind Jim... Everyone laughed at Jules... except Jim.” When the war starts, the two enlist and go to battle with scores of other uniformed figures. Just minutes before the armistice is signed, Jules’s habitual dawdling saves his life when Jim goes into the field first and is shot. Goldstyn delivers his messages about the futility of war and the injustice of labeling fellow humans enemies with simple dignity: “Sometimes they took German prisoners and, to Jules and Jim’s surprise, they didn’t seem like monsters. They were kind of pitiful.” The grim story is lightened somewhat by gentle comic touches, such as Goldstyn’s loosely drawn characters, and his measured narrative tone, gracefully translated by Mahoney. Because of its particular focus on WWI, the story may be of special value to teachers whose classes are studying the period. Ages 7–10. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
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