October 8, 2017


Letters to a Prisoner by Jacques Goldstyn is a read. The wordless book tells the story of a man unjustly imprisoned and the letter writing campaigns that help him maintain his faith and eventually earn his freedom.

The story was inspired by Amnesty International's letter-writing campaigns that help to free people who have been jailed for expressing their opinions. In this particular story, a man and his daughter attend a peaceful protest and the father is arrested simply because of his presence at the protest. Confined to a small jail cell, he's on the verge of losing hope when a bird delivers a letter of support written by someone following his case. No matter how hard the guards try to prevent the inevitable onslaught of letters coming in, the man reads one after the other and comes to realize the effects of these letters on his faith in the system and he is eventually able to return to his daughter thanks to the anonymous support he received from strangers.

As a huge fan of Serge Bloch's illustration style, this book had everything I needed to love it. Though the illustrations are simple in line and color, they are far from simple in expression: despite the fact that the book is wordless, Goldstyn is careful to construct his world in such a way as to convey the complexities of this war: readers can easily see the two warring "factions," characterized by red circles versus blue squares, giving the illustrations (not to mention the time period) a universal feeling, and space plays a large role to help readers understand how the man is treated in his confinement. 

Letters to a Prisoner published from Owl Kids in September.

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