cover image Maurice and His Dictionary

Maurice and His Dictionary

Cary Fagan, illus. by Enzo Lord Mariano. Owlkids, $18.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-77147

When the Nazis invade Brussels, 14-year-old Maurice and his family flee, passing through France, Spain, and Portugal before ending up interned in Jamaica at the British-run Gibraltar Camp. Throughout this graphic novel, Maurice holds on to his dream of becoming a lawyer, following his father’s motto: “Solve one problem, and then the next, and the next.” Based on Fagan’s grandfather’s experiences, the anecdotal-feeling narration straightforwardly conveys the family’s fear, uncertainty, determination, and love. Mariano’s stylishly exaggerated illustrations reveal key details—a rat nibbling bedding, a battered political prisoner, and Maurice’s discovery of the dictionary, which he uses to study English and work toward his future as a lawyer. Panels showing Maurice’s memories and dreams glow in golden tones, and, as the family moves toward safety, the chilly blues of the opening pages warm toward a sunnier, if constrained, life in Jamaica, and Maurice’s future in Canada. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)