Reviews for Christophe's Story
Booklist Reviews 2007 December #2
Few children's books tackle the genocide in Rwanda, making Christophe's Story stand out. Christophe's family escapes the soldiers and flees to England, where Christophe struggles to adjust to his new life. When his new teacher hears him recount the family's harrowing escape and the death of his baby brother, she writes down his words, expecting him to be pleased. Instead Christophe explodes in anger. His grandfather, the village storyteller, has told Christophe that stories are alive and should never be written. Eventually the teacher understands and responds with a storytelling unit that allows the boy to tell his story to a wider audience and realize his own destiny as a storyteller. At times Christophe feels less like an actual boy than an Everyman character put through the standard immigrant-story conventions of language barriers, bullies, a kind teacher, and a friendly classmate. But as a whole, the book succeeds, giving insight into the refugee experience and a glimpse of the horrors in Rwanda that will not overwhelm young readers. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 June #1
Eight-year-old Christophe and his family have fled to England from war-torn Rwanda. In his new school, he is reluctant to learn to read because his grandfather believed that stories should be told and not written, in order that the listeners can form their own pictures. He learns, but reads only factual material. It is extremely painful to remember the past, but he's finally able to tell his own experiences of war, fear, death and loss. His teacher records the story, and Christophe agrees to let her transcribe it, because he understands that it is important that it reach a wider audience. By having Christophe speak with chilling simplicity directly to his classmates--and to the reader--Cornwell is able to convey the horror without the distance of an outside voice. It's a powerful indictment of the savagery of war and its effect on those caught in its path. But there's also a catharsis in the telling and a glimmer of hope for the future. Sugar-coating the truth about the world's evils is not in the best interests of children, but at what age should they be made aware of these truths? Parents and teachers may need to make that decision here. (Fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.