The Prisoner and the Writer

Published on November 1, 2022

The Prisoner and the Writer shares the lives of two different men caught in the middle of very different sides of the same (true) story. Illustrated in dominating tones of black, blue, and red, it’s the occasional bursts of yellow depicting sources of light that remind us that hope is still alive, even during the darkest of times.


The Prisoner and the Writer
Heather Camlot
Illustrated by Sophie Casson

Groundwood Books

In 1895, when French Captain Alfred Dreyfus is accused of being a German spy, he’s sent to prison on Devil’s Island to spend the rest of his days. Hearing stories about Dreyfus’ innocence, Émile Zola, a prominent French writer, begins to dig deeper into the prisoner’s case. Risking his career and his life, Zola’s quest for the truth leads him to write a letter to the president of France entitled J’Accuse…! The letter, published on the front page of a local newspaper, sheds light on the injustice that has befallen Captain Dreyfus, whose only crime is to have been born Jewish.

Celebrating 125 years since its publication, J’Accuse…! represents one person’s fearlessness in the fight for truth and equality. A century and a quarter later, Émile Zola’s writing continues to advocate for all victims of injustice, discrimination and hate. A soul-stirring story that is just as moving visually, The Prisoner and the Writer is well worth the read, and is a great introduction to developing young readers’ critical thinking skills.mRb

Phoebe Yī Lìng is a freelance writer, editor, and full-time explorer. She currently works with the Nunavik Inuit community as a Gladue writer and sometimes spends her time dabbling in experimental performance or marvelling at the complexities of intra/interpersonal communication.



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