Peter Gouldthorpe, The White Mouse: the story of Nancy Wake, Omnibus Books, 1 August 2015, 40pp., $26.99 (hbk) ISBN 9781742990910
Listed as suitable for readers ten and up, this title has some war time illustrations and content that develop the narrative, but may be considered confronting for younger readers.
The information about Nancy Wake is very comprehensive and it is impressive and nerve wracking to read about the extent of her operations with the French Resistance during World War II. Every page is fully illustrated, graphically using black line work with some black line hatching and fairly muted ink wash. The art work is unromanticised and does not glamorise people or events. This effect helps convey the time period and complements the text which is set on discoloured yellowed pages that appear to have been torn roughly from a spiral note book and tossed down over parts of the underlying illustrations of events being described. The Bernard font on these note book pages gives these texts authenticity.
In addition, the narrative is written in the present tense so, for the reader, each page develops an event in Nancy’s life and wartime experience as it happened, not knowing what the next moment or day might bring. Those used to reading about historical events in the past tense may need to adjust to this style.
At around 40 pages and 270×245 mm this publication is a gripping biographical and historical text that presents information, and a great story of courage, in an evocative way.
Reviewed by Elspeth Cameron