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The Prisoner and the Writer

The Prisoner and the Writer

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Heather Camlot (CA)
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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.


Key Text Features

author's note

illustrations

sources

references

informational note

historical context

historical note

further information

afterword

headings


Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.3
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.7
Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).