Rose Blanche Book Summary

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will summarize the historical picture book ''Rose Blanche'' by Roberto Innocenti, which is the story of a young girl living in Nazi Germany during World War II.

Background and Character Introduction

Imagine being a child in Germany during World War II. Although adults often try to shield their children from the atrocities in the world, it is impossible to hide everything from them. Rose Blanche is an ordinary girl living in Germany who becomes confused by the things that she sees happening around her. She tries to help when she can, but ends up finding herself in over her head. Rose Blanche is a picture book by Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz with illustrations by Innocenti, which describes the clash between innocence and reality that occurred during this time period.

The Trucks

The way Rose Blanche describes her German town and her interests makes it easy to relate to her. She lives in a typical European small town ''with narrow streets, old fountains and tall houses with pigeons on the roofs.'' She enjoys watching the river flow and the trucks going up and down the street.

Recently, the traffic patterns have changed. Rose Blanche first noticed a truck arriving to pick up men dressed as soldiers. After that, there were lots more trucks and a lot of noisy, smelly tanks on the road. Rose Blanche's mother becomes concerned about her daughter crossing the street because ''soldiers won't slow down.'' Rose Blanche wonders where they are going.

The Boy

One day, something happens that confuses Rose Blanche. While one of the trucks is stopped for repairs, a ''little boy jumped from the back of the truck and tried to run away.'' Why would a child be in a truck filled with soldiers? Why does he want to get away?

The little boy does not get very far because the mayor just happens to be there to grab him. The mayor roughly takes him by the collar and returns him to the soldiers. They place the boy back in the truck and leave. Rose Blanche becomes curious, so she follows the truck.

Hungry Children

At the edge of town, she finds a clearing in the forest containing a camp. There are young, cold, hungry children trapped behind an electric barbed wire fence. Rose Blanche shares the bread in her pocket with them. Throughout the winter, Rose Blanche sneaks food from her house to share with the children.

Rose Blanche notices that everyone in town, except the mayor, is becoming thin… especially the children behind the barbed wire fence. She notices that many of them are wearing yellow stars and that there seem to be more of them.

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