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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Age Range: 9-11
There is a little village deep in the countryside of Alsace in France surrounded by hills, fields of flowers and orchards. From the hilltop you can see the spire of Strasbourg cathedral rising above the wheat fields.
This village really existed and is where the author Hansi lived. At the time he wrote My Village; Alsace was under occupation by Germany following the Franco-Prussian War. The vivid, colourful and meticulous illustrations give a fascinating depiction of life in the early part of the twentieth century of the Alsatian people. It shows the traditional life of the villagers. They are patriotic, kind, and always smiling, despite their difficult circumstances of living under occupation. There is kind Father Vetter who teaches French at the local school; Yerri, a little boy who lives with his grandfather; and all the other children in the village, who pay cards, sing songs and help prepare food for the traditional Alsatian festivals.
Hansi uses his skills as an illustrator to poke gentle fun at the German authorities whilst celebrating the people and places he loved so much. His satire is always humorous and sharp-eyed readers will enjoy spotting the subtle references in his illustrations. It is an expression of French national pride and a gentle satire of Germany.
The text is suitable for children aged from about eight years old, but will equally be appreciated by adults.