Cover image for Line of fire : diary of an unknown soldier (August, September 1914)
Line of fire : diary of an unknown soldier (August, September 1914)
Barroux., illustrator and author.
Uniform Title:
On les aura! English
Publication Information:
London : Phoenix Yard Books, 2014.
Physical Description:
93 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Words taken from a diary by an unknown French soldier are paired with illustrations depicting the action.
General Note:
Originally published in French in 2011 under the title On les Aura! by Editions du Seuil.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D640 .O5213 2014 Young Adult Graphic Novel Graphic Novels
D640 .O5213 2014 Graphic Novel Central Library
D640 .O5213 2014 Graphic Novel Central Library
D640 .O5213 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D640 .O5213 2014 Graphic Novel Graphic Novels

On Order



A graphic adaptation of a 100-year-old diary brings World War I history to life

One winter morning, Barroux was walking down a street in Paris when he made an extraordinary find: the real diary of a soldier in World War I. Barroux rescued the diary from the trash and illustrated the soldier's words. In this striking black and white graphic novel adaptation of a 100-year-old diary, the events of the first two months of World War I are given fresh meaning and relevance to modern audiences. This is living history that has the power to engage new generations through one man's story that is silhouetted against the historical events that formed and transformed the world we live in today.

Author Notes

Barroux is a popular illustrator whose books include Extraordinary Pets , Mr. Leon's Paris , and Where's Mary's Hat . He has worked as a press illustrator for Forbes Magazine , the New York Times , and the Washington Post . Michael Morpurgo is the award-winning children's author of such titles as Kensuke's Kingdom , Private Peaceful , and War Horse . Sarah Ardizzone has twice won the Marsh Award for children's literature in translation.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

French cartoonist Barroux combines his talent for interpretative illustration with the real-life mystery of an anonymous WWI French soldier's diary, which he rescued from routine rubbish collection on a twenty-first-century Paris street. Maintained between August 3, 1914, when he was mobilized, and September 12, 1914, where it abruptly ends, the diary records pithy, unsentimental notations of weather, troop movement, and the effects of the battle on both soldiers and civilians as well as the diarist's experiences seeing significant battle action, getting wounded and treated, and suffering from the boredom of waiting for word from both home and the front. For each scene the simple record evokes, Barroux depicts moving images in pencil-textured, deeply shaded, and unbounded panels, filling the backgrounds with simple, sketchy figures. With back matter briefly describing other remnants found with the diary, photos of its pages, and an introduction by War Horse (2007) author Michael Morpurgo, this creative repurposing of almost-lost primary source material is an excellent all-ages memorial, especially fitting for the war's centennial.--Goldsmith, Francisca Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The hundred-year-old diary that forms the text of this work was found by French author-illustrator Barroux on a Paris sidewalk in a heap of trash. In entries rendered smoothly into English by Ardizzone, the anonymous author tells of his first months as an infantryman in WWI. Barroux (Mr. Leon's Paris) quarters the pages, providing rough, black charcoal drawings for each sentence or two of text. He conveys the monotony and dread of the soldier's life: the endless digging of trenches, the sight of wounded soldiers and fleeing families, the way dark and rain make everything worse. Only the clunky triangular noses and gentle features Barroux gives his human faces soften the grimness. Before long the narrator is wounded, and he describes his stay in the hospital, surrounded by suffering ("while a gunner who had been begging to die since the morning breathes his last"). The diary finishes abruptly: "Sometimes I'm sorry I didn't stay in the line of fire." The documentary-style pacing makes this account best suited to those with an established interest in accounts of military life, but it remains a remarkable artifact, given haunting new life. Ages 10-13. (July)? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-An unusual perspective on the Great War. French author/illustrator Barroux found a soldier's diary among some belongings being discarded on the street and decided to depict this young man's words in the graphic novel format. The diary covers the first two months of World War I, as seen from the perspective of a French infantryman. The story is both fascinating and frustrating, as we read about the boredom and confusion experienced by soldiers who spend most of their time walking, digging trenches, waiting for letters, looking for shelter, and wondering where the war is, exactly. Once in a while they will see a plane overhead, or hear artillery fire off in the distance, or have to hide from the enemy. Instead of the usual "big picture" focus garnered from textbooks, readers see the war as a microcosm, as told by one of its thousand moving parts. Barroux's illustrations were created with thick butcher's pencil on watercolor paper, which were then covered with a tinted varnish. The overall effect is of black-and-white drawings seen through a sepia-toned filter, which make the pictures look as old as the story itself. This volume would be most appreciated by readers looking for primary sources about World War I, as well as anyone who wants to know what it was like to be a soldier a century ago.-Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.