Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rose Blanche – International Literature


Innocenti, Roberto and Christophe Gallaz (translated by Martha Coventry and Richard Graglia). 1985. Rose Blanche. Mankato, MN: Creative Editions. ISBN 0-15-200917-5

Plot Summary
This story takes place in Germany during World War II. A young girl experiences the hardships war brings to a country and then discovers that others experience far greater hardships than she. She does what she can to help the others she discovers in what we adults know to be a concentration camp. The war comes to an end and life goes on but not before being reminded of how tragic war really can be.

Critical Analysis
This simple but very realistic story progresses as a war does. At first, it points out small, subtle changes where very little is different. However, by the end of the story, the reader is keenly aware of how lives have been drastically changed by loss and death and yet the hope of renewal is present.

The text describes German towns and how busy they become when soldiers are moving through on a regular basis. It tells of the narrow cobblestone streets, tall houses, and old fountains. It also tells of the changes that are made during war like muddy streets now filled with ruts and the long wooden houses behind barbed wire outside of town. One of the most telling lines was one that told of how the people were getting thin and only the Mayor was staying fat. The illustrations are quite instrumental in telling the story and describing the setting and characters. Reading this book gives one a sense of the people and landscape of Germany, especially during World War II.

Professional Reviews
From Horn Book
An unforgettable book. Not illusionary, not sentimentalized, this realism is literal, pulsing with drama…and it’s magnificent.

From Publishers Weekly
This is a stunning book and a forceful argument for peace. All ages.

From School Library Journal
An excellent book to use not only to teach about the Holocaust, but also about living a life of ethics, compassion, and honesty.

This book would be a valuable tool in lessons about World War II Germany and the Holocaust. Because of its somewhat non-specific ending, this story would a wonderful discussion starter either in a literature circle or reading response journal format. For writing instruction, this story would be an example of how powerful illustrations can be in a story as well as the use of weather to set the mood.

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