My Village

Hansi; Translated by C. J. Moore

Availability:
Out of print

Quick Look

Colourful, nostalgic illustrations depict a perfect French-Alsace village at the turn of the last century -- perfect, that is, except for the occupying Germans! Hansi's gentle satire in words and pictures will be enjoyed by all.

Format:
hardback
Size:
210 x 295 mm
Publisher:
Floris Books
Subject:
Art & Literature; Picture Books
Illustrations:
colour illustrations
Extent:
40 pages
ISBN:
9780863156564
Publication date:
25 Sep 2008

Description

There is a little village deep in the countryside of Alsace in France. To find it, get off the train at a small station decorated with flowers, and walk down a narrow road between some orchards. In the distance, you'll see the church spire rising above the wheat fields.

This is not a made-up village: it really exists. It was the village where Jean-Jacques Waltz, known through his books and drawings as 'Hansi', lived, and it was the place he loved more than any other on earth. At the time he wrote My Village, Alsace was under occupation by Germany following the Franco-Prussian War, and Hansi used his skills as an illustrator to poke gentle fun at the German authorities.

The beautiful, colourful and detailed pictures in this book show Alsatian adults and children in their traditional dress, going about their traditional lives in harmony with their surroundings. They are patriotic, kind, and always smiling, despite their difficult circumstances, and they honour the values handed down through the generations. In contrast, the Germans are portrayed as brash and self-indulgent, imposing petty laws on the villagers as well as trying to impose German culture.

Hansi's satire, however, is always humorous, and the book is a joy throughout. Sharp-eyed readers will enjoy spotting the subtle references in his illustrations. The text is suitable for children aged from about eight years old, but will equally be appreciated by adults.

Reviews

'A striking book … a charming, colourful depiction of an ideal village, its sweetness sharpened by the artist's commentary.'
-- Pat Thomson, Carousel, Spring 2009

'The book is richly illustrated, and richly thought-provoking. It made me wonder about how, in future, Palestinian and Iraqi children's books, for example, might depict the forces currently occupying these nations? How should the oppressors of now be represented to the young descendants of the oppressed? There are of course no answers to these questions.'
-- Books for Keeps, March 2009

'Hansi was a pioneering picture book creator ... It is spendidly detailed and fitting of its own time in style and carefully reveals life in Alsace in the early years of the last century.'
-- The School Librarian, April 2009

Author

Hansi (1873-1951) was born Jean-Jacques Waltz in Colmar, in the French region of Alsace. A pro-French activist in a German-occupied area following the Franco-Prussian War, he worked as an artist and produced satirical drawings which mocked the German authorities. He started publishing under the pseudonym 'Oncle Hansi' or just 'Hansi'. He was imprisoned several times, including in Leipzig in 1914, from where he escaped back to France and joined the military during the First World War. In 1941 he was nearly assassinated by the Gestapo, but fled to Switzerland. He never recovered from his injuries and died in Colmar in 1951. He is a hero in Alsace, where his books and drawings are widely reproduced.

Links

Discover books by some other wonderful illustrators:
Carl Larsson
Alois Carigiet
Elsa Beskow

Other Floris Books you might enjoy:

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