The Prisoner and the Writer

When a Jewish army captain is falsely accused of treason and sent to prison, a writer uses his pen to fight for justice.

In 1895 a prisoner watches the ocean through the bars of his cell. Accused of betraying France, Captain Alfred Dreyfus is exiled to a prison on Devil’s Island, far from his wife and children. It’s a horrible fate — but what if he’s innocent?

Seven thousand miles away, the famous writer Emile Zola wonders: Is Alfred a traitor to France? Or a victim of anti-Semitism? Convinced that Alfred is innocent, Emile knows that it is his DUTY to help. He pens the famous letter “J’Accuse …!”, explaining that Alfred was blamed, charged, tried and convicted … only because he is Jewish.

This powerful middle-grade story written in verse with full-page illustrations is told from the perspectives of both Alfred Dreyfus and Emile Zola, two men whose courage changed the world. The true story, published in time for the 125th anniversary of “J’Accuse …!”, acts as a reminder that a person committed to truth, justice and equality must stand up and speak out against prejudice for themselves — and for others. Includes an author’s note and further historical context.

The New York Times: “You may question [the Dreyfus Affair’s] viability as a picture book. The Prisoner and the Writer puts such doubts to rest.”
– Historical Novel Society: “A vividly written parable for today’s age of misinformation.”
The Canadian Jewish News (pages 36-39)
CJN Online edition
– On Standing Up and Speaking Out Against Injustice
– Canlit For Little Canadians
– Montreal Review of Books
– The Sydney Taylor Shmooze
– Jewish Book Council
– Le Devoir (review of French edition)
– CTV Your Morning books segment (1:15 mark)
– Publishers Weekly
– Booklist
– Foreword Interview
– Foreword Reviews (starred): “An affecting account of the Dreyfus Affair that highlights the importance of acting against injustices”
Kiddush Book Club interview
– Sal’s Fiction Addiction
– Larry Swartz
Lindy’s Magpie Reads (YouTube)
– The TeachingBooks Blog
– The International Educator
Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
2023 Notable Books for a Global Society
– A Globe and Mail Top 10 Kids’ Book of 2022
– 9 Great Holiday Reads for Young Readers by CBC – Books Audio version of The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers
– Winter 2023 Top Grade Selection by the Association of Canadian Publishers

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