A young WWI soldier's unauthorized visit home has dire consequences in a haunting story reimagined in miniature tableaux. About one hundred years ago, the whole world went to war. The war was supposed to last months. It lasted years. It is Christmastime, 1914, and World War I rages. A young French soldier named Pierre had quietly left his regiment to visit his family for two days, and when he returned, he was imprisoned. Now he faces execution for desertion, and as he waits in isolation, he meditates on big questions: the nature of patriotism, the horrors of war, the joys of friendship, the love of family, and how even in times of danger, there is a whole world inside every one of us. And how sometimes that world is the only refuge. Its publication coinciding with the centennial of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, this moving and sparely narrated story, based on true events, is reenacted in fascinating miniature scenes that convey the emotional complexity of the tale. Notes from the creators explore the innovative process and their personal connection to the story.
CBCA Shortlist 2020:Picture Book of the Year
CBCA Review:This is an amazing book that deserves recognition if only for the comprehensive collage/photographed artwork. Describing the challenges of bringing life to stiff 'little plastic men' makes explicit the creative problem solving involved in recreating this broad-sweeping, universal WWI moral dilemma. The narrative itself, based on a true story, is powerful history, told in a restrained, yet evocative way. Identifying distinct points of tension, it describes grim irony so evident in the context of war, and the human quandaries that emerge from political expediency. Not a picture book narrative for younger readers, the detailed work put into the tiny miniature figurines is compelling viewing. The story is told through crowd scenes, snowy landscapes, isolated figures and maps. Both black and white and colour are used, as well as fire and flickering candlelight. Ober also uses cinematic techniques such as depth of field, out-of-focus shots and muted, shadowy interiors to create atmosphere and verisimilitude. Endpapers lovingly describe the process employed to create an exceptional piece of artwork.