Line of Fire: Diary of an unknown soldier

Author: Barroux
Translator: Sarah Ardizzone

Age: 11+
RRP: £10.99
ISBN: 9781907912399
Publication Date: 01-02-2014
Format: Pb, 245mm x 180mm x 10mm
Extent: 96 pages

A remarkable find in a rubbish heap...

"We need the voice of a witness to tell the adulterated truth. We have it in this remarkable book." Michael Morpurgo

One winter's morning, Barroux was walking down a street in Paris when he made an incredible discovery: the diary of a soldier in the First World War.

Barroux rescued the diary from a rubbish heap and illustrated the soldier’s words. We have no idea who the soldier is or what became of him. We just have his words; and in his own words and Barroux's extraordinary pictures, this is his story.

In this striking graphic novel adaptation of a 100-year-old diary, the events of the first two months of WWI are told through the eyes of the unknown soldier. This is living history in the form of one man's story silhouetted against the historical events of 1914 that formed and transformed the world we live in today.

In the words of Michael Morpurgo, who has written a special introduction to the book, this is ‘a witness statement, the untrammelled, unedited voice of someone who was there.’

Visit the Line of Fire microsite for news, events and teaching resources (launching on February 1st 2014)

What do we know about our soldier?

The diary begins in August 1914 with the outbreak of WWI and the last entry is 13th September, 1914. We don't know what happened to our solder. The diary was discovered with a medal and the song lyrics at the back of the diary continue until 1917. The soldier's name has long faded from the cover of the diary and there is no name inside the diary.

We do know that our soldier was an infantryman. We know he wasn't a new soldier. We know he had a wife. We know he narrowly escaped death on 28th August, 1914. We know there are other clues in the diary such as his locations and his descriptions of events.



This book should be (and will be) in every school library.

Lana Boztas, Teaching English (The Professional Journal of NATE)

Amongst the many commemorations of The Great War this year, and several through comics and graphic novels, Line of Fire truly stands out as a remarkable piece.

Paul Gravett

Line of Fire is one of the most extraordinary -  and beautiful - books about the First World War. This diary of an unknown French soldier tells of his experiences in the very early days of the fighting at the Front. Told as a matter-of-fact catalogue of events, it records the strange journey from normal civilian life into the life of a solder with all the hardship that brings. While there is no wallowing in all the unpleasantness that he sees, its impact is strongly felt. Through Barroux’s wonderful illustrations readers emphasise absolutely with the soldier’s experience.

Julia Eccleshare, LoveReading 

A timely and very different read about the hell of war, suitable for primary up.

Kitty Empire, Observer

'Children's Book of the Week' in the Sunday Times, Sunday 23rd February 2014

A remarkable artifact, given haunting new life.

Publishers Weekly

An unusually personal view of World War I’s early days.

Kirkus Reviews

An unforgettable reading experience for readers of all ages.

Kids Reads

A truly remarkable graphic novel... Line of Fire is a brilliant and devastating account of one man’s part in the war, all the more poignant because it is told in his own words... It is a book for all.

The Illustrated Forest

Very evocative.

The School Run

An excellent all-ages memorial.

Booklist Online

About the Illustrator and Translator

Born in Paris, Barroux spent most of his childhood in North Africa. On returning to France, Barroux studied photography, art, sculpture, and architecture at the famous École Estienne and École Boule. He went on to work as an art director in Paris, Montreal and New-York. While in Montreal, Barroux began illustrating by creating linocut images. He is now very well-known in France and North America for his illustrations for children's books and the media. His work has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post and Forbes; and he has written and illustrated many books for children. Motivated by interesting colour palette and the imagination, Barroux prefers to work in traditional mediums, mixing linocut, pencil and acrylic.


Sarah Ardizzone was born in Brussels. She studied theatre in Paris and now lives in London. As a travel writer, her assignments included sailing half-way across the world on a cargo ship. Sarah has translated over 40 books for children and grown-ups, including Little Red Hood and Line of Fire for Phoenix Yard Books.

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