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, colorful 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 honor 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.
Buy My Village book by C. J. Moore from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(210mm x 295mm x 13mm)
Publisher: Floris Books
Country of Publication:
Author Biography - C. J. Moore
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.