Resistance, Book 1
written by Carla Jablonski
illustrated by Leland Purvis
In 1942, Paul and his little sister Marie live in the unoccupied region of France. Even though the Germans are supposedly not in control of their part of the country, the people in that region still face food shortages and other hardships. Paul and Marie’s father is a prisoner of war to the Germans and their friend Henri and his parents live in fear because they are Jewish. When those fears come true and Henri’s parents are taken away, Paul and Marie decide to hide their friend. Soon all three are determined to do more than just hide in fear—they join the Resistance.
The effectively eye-catching cover of this gripping historical fiction title almost makes joining the Resistance seem like a game, but the story inside shows readers that it was a hard decision for anyone to make, especially two young teens and a grade-schooler. Paul, Marie, and Henri are brave and determined, but they are also scared—exactly like the adults around them. It is showing readers how they move past that fear into action that makes this book a thought-provoking read. Jablonski doesn’t make the mistake of having the children act like mini adults. They bicker, cry, and complain, just like normal kids their age. But they are also tired of being pushed around, as kids often are, and they decide to act. The adults around them can see the advantages to using children, even though some are more reluctant to do so than others. Ultimately, though, what is best for the cause is what is decided upon and so the kids can join. Their tasks aren’t flashy, they don’t wave around guns or anything like that, but what they do is still dangerous, deadly, and exciting to read about.
Purvis, no stranger to historical fiction graphic novels for teens (he illustrated two of Simon & Schuster’s Turning Points series), is at his most serious here, but he doesn’t neglect artistry. Paul is an artist and his drawings permeate this story, complete with the ragged edges where they appear torn from his sketchpad. Sometimes those drawings reflect what is going on around him, but often they give readers a glimpse into his thoughts about what he is experiencing. It’s a much more effective technique than merely telling readers and fits perfectly with a boy who is more comfortable drawing than working with words. The rest of the drawings in the book are careful not to make anything too perfect or too clean. Purvis has a thin-lined, loose style of drawing that is excellent at bringing his characters and settings to life, especially when he varies perspective within the panels. Hilary Sycamore’s colors capture the freshness of a French vineyard and the horrors of a Nazi deportation.
One death at the hands of soldiers is the extent of the violence, though there is some fighting, mostly between the children of the village, but nothing is beyond the appropriate level for a middle school library. Jablonski’s author’s note at the end offers some more information about the French Resistance and asks her audience hard questions about how they would act if they found themselves in Paul, Marie, and Henri’s situation. It’s a perfect end to an excellent book. Classes studying World War II will want to add this to their reading list and it is a good read-alike for books like Number the Stars.-- Snow Wildsmith