Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 7 to 10
- Grade: 2 to 5
Jim and Jules are childhood friends, born on the same day in the same village. All their lives, Jim has been first — born two minutes before Jules, always faster, always stronger. When the First World War breaks out in Europe, the two young men enlist in the fight with 30,000 other Canadians.
On the Front, conditions aren’t epic and glorious but muddy and barbaric. Here, too, Jim is the first to attack. Jules is always two minutes behind: lagging in drills, missing the boat, handed chores instead of honors. On November 11, 1918, Jim and Jules are sent out to fight one last time. Jim, always first over the top of the trench, is shot and dies at 10:58am, two minutes before the Armistice takes effect at 11:00am.
Illustrated by political cartoonist and Letters to a Prisoner author Jacques Goldstyn and inspired by true events, this picture book is a simple, poignant, thought-provoking story to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Armistice in 2018.
About the author
Jacques Goldstyn has earned a high profile in Quebec- and French-language media as an illustrator and political cartoonist. He is a regular contributor to Les Débrouillards and his books include Le petit tabarnak (Pasthèque, 2013) and 100 choses à faire dans sa vie (Bayard, 2012). He has twice won Le Grand Prix du journalisme indépendant for editorial illustration. He lives in Montreal, Quebec.
- Commended, Light Reads, Great Stories
- Commended, Ontario Library Association Best Bet
- Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens - STARRED SELECTION
- Short-listed, 2019-2020 Golden Cowbell Award
- Commended, Quill and Quire Kids Book of the Year
- Commended, 2019 Best Children’s Books of the Year
“This antiwar parable...is a powerful and accessible multi-audience picture book that imbues meaning to the hundredth anniversary of a war’s end now shrouded in the long ago while challenging young readers to weigh the merits of current conflicts in the news.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"This is a beautiful and heartfelt picture book about war and perspective that should be a part of all social studies curriculum."
School Library Journal - STARRED REVIEW
"There will be lots to talk about after sharing this very fine picture book; highly recommended especially for elementary school library collections."
"Because of its particular focus on WWI, the story may be of special value to teachers whose classes are studying the period."
"A history lesson and conversation starter in one book."
Kirkus Reviews - STARRED REVIEW
"Goldstyn’s text is powerful in its spareness, while his cartoon pictures successfully capture the story's tone and moods, both antic and somber; taken together, these create a memorable, moving tale."
"This would be a powerful book to read prior to the two minutes of silence on November 11 at 11 a.m. to consider how short two minutes is, but also what a difference two minutes can make."
Canadian Review of Materials
"While this well-written title is meant for a younger audience, older students may also connect with the content as they study World War I and seek a depiction of the life of a soldier."
School Library Connection