Rose Blanche

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Rose Blanche

Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz


The following entry presents criticism on Innocenti and Gallaz's picture book Rose Blanche (1985) through 2005. For further information on Innocenti's life and works, see CLR, Volume 56.


A controversial picture book that defies categorization, Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz's Rose Blanche (1985) is an insightful examination of a young German girl's discovery of a concentration camp near her village at the end of World War II. Despite its dark theme, Rose Blanche uses subtle imagery accompanied by sparse language to communicate the tragedies of the Holocaust. The story is simply expressed, providing its narrative placement at the heart of the Holocaust through visual clues and graphic allusions to events and imagery associated with the Nazi-led "final solution." Using a little girl as narrative host, Rose Blanche avoids the expected direct expressions of death and horror associated with the Holocaust to provide a message that must instead be found outside the proffered text. While Innocenti is often listed as solely the illustrator of Rose Blanche, the story originated with his personal experiences during World War II, and it was Innocenti who originally brought the story—complete with illustrations and early text—to publishers. While Gallaz composed the final text, based off of Innocenti's work, for the 1985 publication of Rose Blanche, the British edition of the picture book replaced Gallaz's text with a new narrative written by English author Ian McEwan. (Most international translations of Rose Blanche are derived from Gallaz's version.) Thus, in many circles, Innocenti is credited as the primary—and in some cases, sole—creator of Rose Blanche.


Innocenti was born on February 16, 1940, in Bagno a Ripoli, Italy, near Florence. Born and raised during World War II, Innocenti left school at thirteen to provide another source of income for his family, eventually gaining work at a steel foundry from 1953 to 1958. He left Florence for Rome at eighteen and found employment at an animation studio. A self-taught illustrator, Innocenti's career as an artist has stretched from film and theater poster design to book composition and magazine art. In 1970, on the advice of American artist John Alcorn, Innocenti tried his hand at book illustration, eventually creating the art for such noted works as Italian writer Alberto Manzi's La Luna Nelle Baracche (The Moon in the Shacks) (1974). His illustrations debuted in the United States through his association with Golden Books, penning the illustrations for their "All Kinds" series of picture books, authored by Seymour Reit. In the early 1980s, inspired by the German World War II resistance group called "The White Rose," Innocenti illustrated three paintings that would later become the basis for Rose Blanche. Submitting the paintings to various Italian publishers, along with a proposal for a Holocaust-themed picture book, Innocenti was rejected by all of them, forcing him to temporarily shelve the project. During this period, Innocenti was introduced to Etienne Delessert, the director of the series "Grasset—Monseuir Chat" for the Edizioni Grasset Fausquelle in Paris. Delessert commissioned Innocenti to illustrate a retelling of Charles Perrault's Cinderella for his series, which also included contributions by several major international artists. In 1983 Innocenti showed Delessert and editor Rita Marshall his Rose Blanche portfolio. Delessert contacted Pierre Lamuniere, the president of the Edipresse publishing house, to fund Innocenti's Rose Blanche. With approval in hand, Innocenti created a rough draft of the book with Delessert's assistance, offering short summaries expressing what he intended each illustration to convey.

Using his completed illustrations and notes, Edipresse hired Swiss writer Christophe Gallaz to pen a story to match Innocenti's graphic art. Born on October 31, 1948, in Valeyres-sous-Rances, Switzerland, Gallaz was a Swiss journalist who had also penned several novels and works of nonfiction for adults. However, beginning in 1982 with La vie à belles dents, Gallaz began authoring works for young readers.

Aside from Rose Blanche, his most famous juvenile work to date is the 2003 picture book The Wolf Who Loved Music. In 1985, Creative Edition Publishers, the American publishers of Innocenti's edition of Cinderella, obtained the American rights to Rose Blanche and hired Martha Coventry to translate Gallaz's text. Dissatisfied with her work, Creative Edition eventually hired Richard Graglia to redo Coventry's translations to better reflect the tone of the story, releasing the American edition in 1985. British publisher Jonathan Cape eliminated Gallaz's text entirely, assigning British author Ian McEwan to compose a new storyline—McEwan is today best known as the author of such novels as Atonement (2002) and Saturday (2005). Using a third-person narrative style, McEwan's version strongly varies from other international editions that relied upon direct translations of Gallaz's original text. Despite misgivings about the appropriateness of a picture book with seemingly adult themes, Rose Blanche received strong critical praise, winning the Bratisalva Golden Apple for illustration and the American Library Association's Mildred Batchelder Award for a children's book published in a foreign language. Since the release of Rose Blanche, Innocenti has continued to illustrate a variety of children's works, though none of his subsequent books have received the same level of fame. Regardless, he continues to be a well-respected and popular illustrator, having won several prominent commendations, including the Gustav Hainemann Prize for Peace in 1985, the Enfantasie Prize in 1990, the Lucca Comics Prize for Best Illustrator in 1999, the Under '40 Fiction Prize in 2001, and a Certificate of Excellence by the New York Times in 2002. He was also nominated as Italy's representative for the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award for illustration in 2004, eventually ranking as one of five finalists for the prize.


Deceptively simple, Rose Blanche utilizes sparse text and strong visuals to relate the story of the titular Rose Blanche, a normal little girl living in a seemingly average German village during World War II. Told in the first person, the story evokes many varied aspects of World War II through subtle hints, not the least of which includes the title, which has strong significance throughout Europe—particularly in Germany itself. Borrowed from a famous German resistance group known as "The White Rose," the book's title recalls their tragic efforts to alert Germany to the dangers of Adolf Hitler's national campaigns. A nonviolent group, the White Rose was composed of five students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor. The group published several provocative leaflets against the Nazi regime before being discovered, convicted, and executed by the Gestapo in 1943. The heroine of Rose Blanche is meant to recall aspects of their sacrifice, particularly that of the White Rose's sole female member, Sophie Scholl, who is today regarded as one of the most famous twentieth-century German women. Upon witnessing the mayor of her town help recapture a young boy who has escaped from the back of a passing truck and then pass him along to some Nazi soldiers, Rose Blanche follows the tracks made by the trucks through the woods near her village to a barbed wire fence. Behind the fence, in a camp she had never known existed, Rose sees the gaunt faces of prisoners in uniforms bearing the yellow Star of David. Confused but captivated, Rose Blanche proceeds to secretively bring small packages of food to the prisoners over the course of the next several months. After the rest of her village evacuates when the war dramatically escalates around her town, she makes one last pilgrimage to the camp, only to be killed off-panel by a stray bullet from a soldier's gun. While her death is not depicted, and nor is it explicitly noted, the text and illustrations leave little doubt: "Shadows were moving between the trees. It was hard to see them. Soldiers saw the enemy everywhere. There was a shot." As Virginia A. Walters and Susan F. March have stated, "The narration shifts to the third person at this point and explains that Rose Blanche disappeared that day." The omniscient narrator then notes that Rose's mother wondered where her child went, but could not find her. The last words of the text offer hope—"Spring sang"—accompanying a final illustration of the shredded purple flower Rose had placed on the camp fence just prior to her death.


As a picture book, Rose Blanche is grounded in many real-life details from World War II, featuring illustrations that recreate the Potsdam Fountain and allude to a famous photograph taken of a boy being arrested during the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto. In the book leaf to the 1991 American edition of Rose Blanche, Innocenti wrote that, "I wanted to illustrate how a child experiences war without really understanding it. After drawing the first page I chose Rose Blanche as its title because of the significance of the name. Rose Blanche was a group of young German citizens protesting the war. They had understood what others wanted to ignore. They were all killed. In this book fascism is a day-to-day reality. Only the victims and the little girl have known its real face." Hamida Bosmajian has suggested that Innocenti's "motivation to acknowledge a resistance group whose key members were executed is aestheticized here through artwork whose painstaking beauty is an end to itself and makes mourning and memory a sentimental gesture rather than a profound struggle." However, critics have argued whether Rose Blanche functions best as a representation of the German resistance to the Nazi regime—personified by Rose herself—or as an indictment of the German silence regarding the Nazi war atrocities—personified by the rest of Rose's village. There has also been several questions surrounding the religious allusions in Rose Blanche, particularly those conveyed through Innocenti's illustrations. Emer O'Sullivan has contended that Innocenti's "portrayal of Rose just before her death has visual associations with pictures of Christ: her eyes are downcast, one hand lightly touching her heart, and the other placing a small blue flower in remembrance onto the barbed wire." However, with many scholars noting Rose's seemingly "Christ-like" sacrifice in helping Jewish prisoners of war, Virginia A. Walters and Susan F. March have maintained that Rose Blanche "can be seen as one of the ‘righteous Gentile’ stories, in which a good and honorable Gentile tries to help the imperiled Jews," arguing further that, "[p]erhaps this story does not even qualify as a concentration camp story … because it stops at the fence of the concentration camp, with Rose Blanche on the outside looking in." Religious analogies aside, there has additionally been much written about Innocenti's color scheme in Rose Blanche. Geoff Fox has noted that, "In illustration after illustration, Rose Blanche's bright colors—the red of her ribbon and her dress, the transparent purity of her skin, the blue of her eyes—isolate her against the sombre uniforms of the soldiers, the decaying town and the bleak concentration camp."


While Rose Blanche has been a critical favorite with many, it has also inspired considerable debate surrounding the work's appropriateness for children. Unquestionably a genre-defying work, Rose Blanche has been called "an extraordinary book by any criteria" by critic Geoff Fox and "a total mistake" by Michael Rosen of the New Statesman. Lorraine Douglas has asserted that Rose Blanche "is a difficult book to classify, as the text is easy enough for young child to read alone, and it has the appearance of a picture book—but the content of the text and illustrations is full of emotional impact and subtlety." Several critics have objected to the work being classified as a picture book, despite its illustrated format, arguing that the picture book classification makes it appear as if the work is appropriate for the youngest readers. These questions of age-appropriateness have plagued similar works that address genocide and war such as Toshi Maruki's Hiroshima No Pika and Margaret Wild's Let the Celebrations Begin! Patricia Campbell has maintained that, "Rose Blanche is a deeply problematic work … Without a grounding of fact, this is a story full of puzzles and intimations of unusual horrors … A young child has no orientation in time, place, or reality for this book, no frame of reference for understanding its broader implications." Virginia A. Walters and Susan F. March have further concluded that books such as Rose Blanche "should not be viewed as simply children's picture books, or even as picture books for ‘older children’; they are children's books for adults to share with children. They imply not only a child reader, but also an adult mediator who will read the book jacket copy and the historical notes and help the child process the information on their pages."


By Innocenti and Gallaz

*Rose Blanche [illustrations by Roberto Innocenti; translated from the French by Martha Coventry and Richard Graglia] (picture book) 1985

By Innocenti as Illustrator

La Luna Nelle Baracche [by Alberto Manzi] (picture book) 1974

All Kinds of Planes [by Seymour Reit] (picture book) 1978

All Kinds of Ships [by Seymour Reit] (picture book) 1978

All Kinds of Trains [by Seymour Reit] (picture book) 1978

Cinderella [by Charles Perrault] (fairy tale) 1983

The Adventures of Pinocchio [by Carlo Collodi] (juvenile fiction) 1988

A Christmas Carol [by Charles Dickens] (juvenile fiction) 1990

The Nutcracker [by E. T. A. Hoffmann] (juvenile fiction) 1996

Roberto Innocenti: The Spirit of Illustration [text by Innocenti, Steven L. Brezzo, and Leonard S. Marcus] (illustrations) 1996

The Last Resort [by Roberto Piumini] (picture book) 2001

Erika's Story [by Ruth Vander Zee] (picture book) 2003

Juvenile Works by Gallaz

La vie à belles dents (juvenile fiction) 1982

Mozart [illustrations by George Lemoine] (juvenile biography) 1988

Stravinski [illustrations by Nicolai Popov] (juvenile biography) 1993

Threadbear [illustrations by Gabrielle Vincent] (picture book) 1993

La rivière du monde [illustrations by Marie-Helene Darbellay] (picture book) 1995

Comtes et légendes de Suisse (folklore) 1996

Le réveur d'oiseaux (juvenile fiction) 2000

The Wolf Who Loved Music [illustrations by Marshall Arisman; translated from the French by Mary Logue] (picture book) 2003

*The United Kingdom edition of Rose Blanche, also released in 1985, features new text by Ian McEwan, based on Gallaz's original text.


Lorraine Douglas (review date October 1985)

SOURCE: Douglas, Lorraine. Review of Rose Blanche, by Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti. School Library Journal 32, no. 2 (October 1985): 172.

Gr. 5 Up—During World War II, a young German schoolgirl, Rose Blanche, follows the soldiers when they arrest a boy and discovers a concentration camp in the woods [in Rose Blanche ]. Thereafter, she takes food to the prisoners until the town is liberated. Ironically, when she travels to the camp on that day she is shot by the soldiers. The oppression of Fascism is shown through the powerful and realistic paintings. In Innocenti's large, meticulously detailed paintings, Rose Blanche is the only brightly colored individual, and her small figure is set against the drab colors of overwhelming buildings and masses of soldiers and townspeople. No skyline is shown until a radiant spring bursts forth at the site of her death after the liberation. Although the story is simply told, it will require interpretation as details such as the concentration camp are not named nor explained, and the death of Rose Blanche is implied but not stated. This is a difficult book to classify, as the text is easy enough for a young child to read alone, and it has the appearance of a picture book—but the content of the text and illustrations is full of emotional impact and subtlety. Takashima's A Child in Prison Camp (Tundra, 1971) and Maruki's Hiroshima No Pika (Lothrop, 1982) present the horrors of war, but from the perspective of a child who survives, whereas in Gallaz' book, the child does not survive and is not the recounter of the events. The Children We Remember (Kar-Ben Copies, 1983) by Abells is an easier book for children to understand. Rose Blanche tells of an individual's courage in the face of injustice, but this theme is more fully developed in Orlev's novel The Island on Bird Street (Houghton, 1984).

Denise M. Wilms (review date 1 November 1985)

SOURCE: Wilms, Denise M. Review of Rose Blanche, by Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti. Booklist 82, no. 5 (1 November 1985): 408.

Gr. 5-7—[Rose Blanche is a] startling, powerful picture book, but one that belongs not on the picture-book shelf but with fiction for the upper grades. It is a bleak story of the horrors of war, specifically, World War II. The story's namesake, Rose Blanche, is a young German girl who watches the escalating war activities with youthful detachment until the day she hikes out of town and discovers a concentration camp in the adjacent woods. She sees hungry children there and takes it upon herself to bring them food. One day, when the tide of the war shifts and the Germans are being routed, Rose Blanche is again making her way to the camp, only to be killed in the crossfire. The somber story is illustrated with astonishing watercolor paintings. Pictured is Rose Blanche's nameless, small German town with its narrow streets and brick and stucco buildings—the backdrop for the ebb and flow of wartime encounters. Soldiers come and go, tired looking civilians walk the cobble-stones, and the occasional crystallized moment of horrible evil is caught—such as when Rose Blanche watches the town mayor grab a boy who has escaped from a truck and turns him back to the soldiers. The unstated but clearly depicted politics and the concentration camp scenarios assume a basic knowledge of World War II events. Nothing specific appears in the text; it is picture details that insinuate the developments: swastikas, German graffiti, the striped pajama uni- forms of the camp victims, the red stars and steel helmets of the occupying soldiers. The story's utterly bleak finish (the spring renewal of the land is scant consolation for Rose Blanche's death at the very time of liberation) demands an older audience able to articulate the emotional overload that the story is bound to elicit and one that can discuss the lessons history has to teach.

Horn Book Magazine (review date May-June 1991)

SOURCE: Review of Rose Blanche, by Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti. Horn Book Magazine 67, no. 3 (May-June 1991): 362.

This powerful, disturbing, and unforgettable book [Rose Blanche ] is based on the artist's experiences during World War II. A little girl who has been drawn by curiosity to follow the trucks and tanks rumbling through her small German town finds children standing behind a barbed wire fence and begins to bring them food. Although she is finally killed by soldiers, the book's final image of a springtime landscape suggests the promise of resurrection and hope.

Virginia A. Walter and Susan F. March (essay date fall 1993)

SOURCE: Walter, Virginia A., and Susan F. March. "Juvenile Picture Books about the Holocaust: Extending the Definitions of Children's Literature." Publishing Research Quarterly 9, no. 3 (fall 1993): 36-51.

[In the following essay, Walter and March analyze two picture books dealing with the Holocaust, Margaret Wild's Let the Celebrations Begin! and Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz's Rose Blanche, utilizing both works to discuss how young readers respond to children's literature that deals with potentially disturbing subject matter.]

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Teri S. Lesesne, G. Kylene Beers, and Lois Buckman (review date May 1997)

SOURCE: Lesesne, Teri S., G. Kylene Beers, and Lois Buckman. Review of Rose Blanche, by Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 40, no. 8 (May 1997): 670.

An innocent young girl watches as the tanks begin to rumble through the streets of her small German town [in Rose Blanche ]. At first, all of the activity is exhilarating. Suddenly, the story turns more somber. There is a jarring shift of narrator and point of view as young Rose follows one truck out into the woods. In a clearing she discovers a barbed wire enclosure. Behind the fence are people, some with yellow stars, all apparently starving. Rose begins to demand more food and her mother wonders how she still manages to lose weight. Readers know the answer.

The startling distinction between the objective text and the horrific illustrations heighten the feeling of dread that escalates from the first page to the inevitable conclusion. Available for the first time in a paperback edition, this book deserves study in a unit on war, the Holocaust, and World War II as well as within units based upon themes of courage, terror, and sacrifice.

Floyd Dickman (review date January 1999)

SOURCE: Dickman, Floyd. Review of Rose Blanche, by Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti. Book Links 8, no. 3 (January 1999): 23.

Gr. 5-up—Trucks filled with prisoners rumble through the German town where Rose Blanche lives [in Rose Blanche ]. As World War II comes to an end, Rose is caught in a battle between Allied and Nazi armies and is never seen again. Dark, somber, surrealistic illustrations parallel the mood of this picture book for older readers. The book was translated from the original French version, published in 1985.

Geoff Fox (essay date 2001)

SOURCE: Fox, Geoff. "The Second World War: The United Kingdom and North America." In Children at War: From the First World War to the Gulf, by Kate Agnew and Geoff Fox, pp. 150-53. London, England: Continuum, 2001.

[In the following excerpt, Fox, amid a larger discussion of children's literature about World War II, discusses the importance of illustration and color in Rose Blanche.]

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Hamida Bosmajian (essay date 2002)

SOURCE: Bosmajian, Hamida. "Hidden Grief: Maurice Sendak's Dear Mili and the Limitations of Holocaust Picture Books." In Sparing the Child: Grief and the Unspeakable in Youth Literature about Nazism and the Holocaust, pp. 222-23. New York, N.Y.: Routledge, 2002.

[In the following excerpt, Bosmajian suggests that, while undeniably a work of Holocaust children's literature, Rose Blanche has a stronger basis in fairy tales or aestheticism than in historical fact.]

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Susan Stan (essay date March 2004)

SOURCE: Stan, Susan. "Rose Blanche in Translation." Children's Literature in Education 35, no. 1 (March 2004): 21-33.

[In the following essay, Stan utilizes the various international editions of Rose Blanche as a basis for studying how picture book translations are influenced by culture, tradition, and identity, among other factors.]

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Emer O'Sullivan (essay date April 2005)

SOURCE: O'Sullivan, Emer. "Rose Blanche, Rose Blanca: A Comparative View of a Controversial Picture Book." Lion and the Unicorn 29, no. 2 (April 2005): 152-70.

[In the following essay, O'Sullivan examines the international reception of Rose Blanche as well as how translations of the picture book reflect national divergences in both expressions of storytelling and cultural requirements.]

Published in Switzerland, the USA, and Britain in 1985, Rose Blanche, Roberto Innocenti's controversial and prize-winning picture book about a young German girl's experience of the Second World War and the Holocaust, has been translated into at least ten different languages. It has remained in print in the United States since publication, and a paperback edition of the British translation was issued by Red Fox in 2004, testifying to the ongoing topicality of Innocenti's story. Its cultural importance was further documented in a recent (2004) article by Susan Stan in Children's Literature in Education about the initial chequered publication of Rose Blanche. Using an English-language translation by a colleague, Stan also explored some of the differences between the texts of the German, American, and British editions of the picture book.

This essay, based on a lecture given at CLISS 2003, addresses the international reception of Rose Blanche and asks how it is bound to such factors as the role of the target culture in the Second World War and its engagement with the subject of the Holocaust. After a brief analysis of Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz's original Italian/Swiss visual and verbal text Rose Blanche, I first review its international reception and translation before moving on to examine the French, American, English, German, Spanish, and Italian versions to question how cultural differences are inscribed into these, even though the pictorial narrations are identical. Close textual analysis of the opening page of the different translations is followed by a discussion of the implied readers of the translations which asks how the texts reflect the cultures' desire or need to tell the story differently.


Conceived and illustrated by the Italian artist Roberto Innocenti1 with a French text by the Swiss journalist and author Christophe Gallaz, Rose Blanche tells of the final phase of the Second World War in a small town in eastern Germany from the perspective of a nine-year-old girl. Set between autumn 1944 and May 1945, it starts with celebratory flagwaving euphoria and ends with destruction, retreat, and the advent of the liberating Red Army. Rose is confronted with the awful truth of the Holocaust after she sees a young boy try unsuccessfully to escape from a lorry. Following it, she discovers a concentration camp in the woods outside the town. She displays instinctive compassion and civil disobedience by sneaking food to the emaciated Jewish child prisoners. In the confusion of the retreat, Rose is killed by a stray bullet. The final page of the book shows spring returning to the forest.

The pictures are composed in a hyper-realistic style obsessed with detail. Red-brick buildings fill most of the pages, creating the claustrophobic confines of the town scenes; grey lorries with blind windows and tanks with soldiers in grey uniforms move from left to right across the page, toward the Eastern Front, until the reversal of the final retreat. Contrasting with the dark, warm color of the bricks is the green hue of the scenes at the edge of the concentration camp; juxtaposing the loud celebrations in the town is the silence of the prisoners. The portrayal of Rose just before her death has visual associations with pictures of Christ: her eyes are downcast, one hand lightly touching her heart, and the other placing a small blue flower in remembrance onto the barbed wire.

The picture on the cover, identical on the hardback editions in all languages, shows Rose framed by the window of a red-brick house, which is used as a mirroring device. In it we see the final movement of soldiers to the front. She is captured here in her prime role as innocent witness who sees, but is not seen. We are looking at her looking at the soldiers going to war; we see pity and compassion in her face. She has discarded her red, Nazi-colored, ribbon of the first pages and exchanged her pink dress for the white one of innocence and purity. The only striking color is the blue of her eyes, which is also the color of the flower she lays on the barbed wire in memory of the prisoners.

Innocenti's pictures are carefully crafted with layer upon layer of historically authentic material. The artist explains how he worked with newspapers, photos, and historical books to create a "scenograph invented by blending, constructed in my manner, brick by brick" (Letter).2 The authenticity of setting is underscored by the use of the German language in the pictures: "Bäckerei Heinrich" above the bakery, "Verboten" on the signposts, and German graffiti on the walls. There is a tension between accuracy and in- vention in this semidocumentary montage, between authentic material and fiction, that corresponds to Innocenti's idea of blending a real story with "una fiaba," a fairy tale (Letter). The German town in the book does not actually exist, but the fountain in the first opening is the image of one in Potsdam. The famous photograph of the boy in the Warsaw Ghetto,3 hands held above his head, is integrated into Innocenti's fictional picture, but it is used in a new context: the boy stands alone in a small town in Germany instead of being in the ghetto crowd. Here he is transformed into the reason for Rose's actions. Through her the readers' helplessness in the face of the historical photo is channelled, retrospectively, into resistance and compassionate action.

Christophe Gallaz's text is sparse and descriptive; there is no direct speech, and it is devoid of an expressed opinion or explanation.4 Opening as a first-person narrative in the present tense, it switches from first to third person, and the basic narrative tense is changed to the past after the climax, the discovery of the concentration camp. The end of the story makes this switch mandatory: Rose's death has to be narrated in the third person. But the narrator of the second part does not differ in voice and scope from the first-person narrator. The shift is subtle and often unnoticed on first reading.

Rose sees what happens, but she doesn't know or understand why; the emotional and cognitive perspectives of a child are kept throughout.5 There is a gap between Rose's limited grasp of events, as narrated in the verbal text, and the details we can see in the pictures. Innocenti conceived Rose Blanche as a book that asks questions, providing "an invitation to respond" (Letter). He imagined an ideal reading situation of children and adults together, with the children asking only what they need to know and the adults—parents, grandparents, or teachers—giving what answers they can or want to provide.

Rose Blanche is a pacifist book that portrays history through German eyes, a view not commonly presented in Allied history. It shows the suffering in the inhuman camps, the mutilation of soldiers, and the destruction of the town. There are no victors in Innocenti's book, only losers in war; with it he wanted to say, "Basta guerra, basta" (Letter). By showing the liberation from the Eastern Front, Innocenti paid tribute to the twenty million Russians who died defeating fascism in the Second World War.6 He wrote that he was enormously grateful for every soldier and member of a resistance movement who helped bring about the end of the war. The title of the book, Rose Blanche, does homage to the German student resistance group at Munich University, "Die weisse Rose" (literally, "The White Rose"), founded by the siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl and others. The Scholls and three of their friends were executed in 1943 for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets.

Rose Blanche addresses a controversial topic for a picture book, a genre traditionally addressed to pre-reading age children, and it presents a controversial approach, as it sticks firmly to the child's perspective. Italian publishers, approached by Innocenti in the early 1980s, rejected the book with the argument "that it is bad for children to know about such things" (Letter).


The original edition of Rose Blanche was published in 1985 by the Swiss publisher Edipresse under the imprint 24 Heures. Two very different English-language editions were issued in the same year: Creative Education in the USA published the American translation by Martha Coventry and Richard Graglia,7 and London's Jonathan Cape published a retelling by Ian McEwan. Both of these countries have a rich tradition of children's literature of the Second World War, with interest in the Holocaust especially strong in the USA. The fourth version, and third translation, of Rose Blanche published in 1985 was Roosje Weiss, published in Belgium and translated into Dutch by Ingrid Nijkerk-Pieters. There is a strong tradition of children's literature in Dutch about the Holocaust: the first book for children about the fate of Jewish children under the Nazi regime, Clara Asscher-Pinkhof's Sterrekindern (Star Children), was published in the Netherlands in 1946, and today novels by authors such as Ida Vos have produced high-quality, literary accounts of Jewish childhoods during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The German translation, Rosa Weiss, by Abraham Teuter, followed swiftly, published by his own Alibaba-Verlag in 1986, which simultaneously issued a supplement with documentary material on "Children as Victims of National Socialism" (Beckmann, Klare, and Koch 1986). The Danish Rose Blanche, translated by Inger Christensen, was also published in 1986.8 Within one year of publication, five different translations had been issued by countries that, in their children's literature, traditionally displayed an interest in the topic of the Second World War and, more specifically, the Holocaust. Rosa Blanca, the Spanish (Castillian) translation by Maribel G. Martínez followed in 1987, and in 1988 Rose Blanche was translated into Swedish and prefaced by Rose Lagercrantz, herself the author of an autobiography of her childhood during the Holocaust. Finally, in 1990, many years after the initial rejection of Innocenti's book and after it had received much international acclaim, Rosa Bianca was published in Italian, translated by Paola Moro. Nineteen ninety also saw the publication of the first Japanese translation, Rozu Blanchu, by Koji Nakano, which was followed ten years later by a second one, Shirobarawa dokoni (Where Is White Rose?), by Hiroshi Osada.9 According to a Japanese delegate at CLISS, the first of these translations is based on the American edition of Rose Blanche, the second is a translation of Ian McEwan's freer British version. In 1998 a Chinese translation, based on the American edition, was issued by the Grimm Press in Taiwan; it is the only translation whose title does not use the proper name of the girl. Instead we get a title which translates back into English as "Small flower on the barbed wire," which refers to the small picture on the last page of the book, the close-up of the now wilted flower on the barbed wire. The title could also be taken to signify the fate of a young girl in wartime.10

At least eleven different translations of Rose Blanche have been published to date, with a Korean one due to be published in 2005, but there are no translations of Rose Blanche into any Slavic language11 or into Hebrew. In discussion after the CLISS lecture with participants from Israel, the point was reinforced that this picture book is ultimately a story of a "righteous Gentile" (Walter and March 47). The readers see what happened to Rose and shed tears at her martyr death, but they never find out what happened to the nameless children in the concentration camp who disappear from the pages of the book without further mention. Unlike the good German, the Jewish children are not individualized.

"Rose Blanche," as a proper name, appears in French in the first, Swiss, edition. Bearing in mind that the German language is used in the pictures as a documentary feature, one may wonder why the girl wasn't given the German name "Rose Weiss" in linguistic proximity to the resistance movement, "Die weisse Rose." In four translations the name is translated, but there are no other forms of cultural adaptation in relation to location or names in the book. The translation of the name can be seen as an attempt to transport the reference to the movement into the languages involved. In the German version she is called "Rosa Weiss," close enough to "weisse Rose"; in the Dutch, "Roosje Weiss" (the diminutive ending "je" makes "Rose" into "little Rosie"); the girl in the Spanish translation is called "Rosa Blanca"; and in the Italian "Rosa Bianca." The American and the British versions elected to leave the (French) name untranslated, which reduces it virtually to a proper name only. The reference to the movement which could have been conveyed with the name "Rose White" remains oblique, as the French translation of the (German) name of a German movement. The same applies to the Danish and Swedish translations. The Japanese phonetic equivalent of the French name "Rozu Blanchu" foregoes any resonance of the resistance movement.

The reception of Rose Blanche in the English-speaking world was, after the initial "mixed reception" (Stan 21), predominantly positive. It was and still is widely appreciated in the USA and Australia, especially amongst teachers, features prominently on webpages on Literature on the Holocaust, and is taught in courses in schools (recommended by the American School Library Journal for Grade 5 Up) and universities. An example of the kind of popular enthusiasm it can generate among teachers is a review which declares "Wow!! This picture book works…."12 It was the recipient of a number of international prizes,13 but perhaps one of the most significant prizes that Rose Blanche did not win was the annual German national children's literature award, the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. The prize for best picture book of 1986 went to Du hast angefangen! Nein, du!, the German translation of David McKee's Two Monsters. Abraham Teuter, translator and publisher of Rosa Weiss, wrote an open letter to the jury accusing them of looking away, just as the townfolk in Rose Blanche had done, and spoke of a scandalous lack of courage, saying that the decision was not so much in favor of McKee as patently against Innocenti. The latter's innovative book was important for Germans and should, according to Teuter, have been given the prize (Teuter/Freitag 2328).

The reception of the book in Germany is obviously unlike that in any other country. It tells of a dark chapter in German history; readers are invited to celebrate the war with the Nazis at the beginning; to discover, with Rosa, the concentration camp with child prisoners in the German woods; to see how she is shot and how Germany was defeated in the war. And they are invited to experience all this on an emotional rather than a cognitive level. Germans are the inheritors of the legacy of war, and parents and teachers may be confronted with children's questions with which they may feel uncomfortable. The question asked of this book in Germany was: is it valid to portray a story of the Holocaust in this form? Shouldn't more historical information be provided? Criticism was levelled at the inaccuracy of Innocenti's pictures, with critics claiming that a concentration camp would never have been built so close to a town, that a child could never have come close to its wire perimeter, and so on. But these questions were dismissed by the German picture book expert, Jens Thiele, as irrelevant and absurd, saying that they were simply an indication of the fears and resistance which the book aroused in German adults. He asked: how can a book possibly show the extermination of children in a concentration camp in an "accurate" manner (Thiele 9)? A further aspect with which the German critical public felt uncomfortable was the fact that with Rose's death, the sole witness to the Nazi crimes in the book disappears; the link between yesterday and today, today and tomorrow is eliminated. The final picture, the reprise of the scene of Rose's death with a red poppy now occupying her place, shows grass growing over the scene of her death and the camp, and could be taken as an indication that all can be easily forgotten. As the following analysis will show, the German translation tries to counterbalance this possible interpretation of the visual narrative by adding specific elements to the text.


An analysis of the verbal narrative of the opening page in the original and five translations, which also addresses how they relate to the accompanying pictorial narratives, will be followed by general conclusions about the translations.

Je m'appelle Rose Blanche. J'habite une petite ville d'Allemagne. Elle a des rues étroites, des fontaines, des maisons hautes et des pigeons sur leurs toits. Mais un jour les premiers camions sont arrivés, et beaucoup d'hommes sont partis. Ils étaient habillés en soldats. L'hiver allait commencer.
     (Original French text by Christophe Gallaz)

My name is Rose Blanche. I live in a small town in Germany with narrow streets, old fountains and tall houses with pigeons on the roofs. One day the first truck arrived and many men left. They were dressed as soldiers. Winter was beginning.
     (American translation by Martha Coventry and Richard Graglia)

When wars begin people often cheer. The sadness comes later. The men from the town went off to fight for Germany. Rose Blanche and her mother joined the crowds and waved them goodbye. A marching band played, everyone cheered, and the fat mayor made a boring speech. There were jokes and songs and old men shouted advice to the young soldiers. Rose Blanche was shivering with excitement. But her mother said it was cold. Winter was coming.
     (English translation by Ian McEwan)

Rosa Weiss lebte in einer kleinen Stadt in Deutschland. Die Straßen der Stadt waren eng; es gab alte Brunnen und hohe Häuser, auf deren Dächern die Tauben saßen. Eines Tages kamen die ersten Lastwagen und viele Männer stiegen ein. Sie trugen Uniformen und winkten. Bürgermeister Schröder hielt eine lange Rede. Überall hingen bunte Fahnen und die Kinder winkten.
     (German translation by Abraham Teuter)

Rosa Blanca vivía en una pequeña ciudad de Alemania. Sus calles eran estrechas, con fuentes antiguas y casas altas, sobre cuyos tejados iban a posarse las palomas. Un día, aparecieron los primeros camiones y muchos hombres se subieron a ellos. Llevaban uniformes y saludaban. El alcade Schroeder pronuncío un discurso. Por todas partes colgaban banderas de colores y los niños saludaban.
     (Spanish translation by Maribel G. Martínez)

Rosa Bianca vivea in una piccola città in Germania. Le strade della città erano anguste; vi erano antiche fontane e alti edifici con i colombi appollaiati sui tetti. Un giorno arrivarono i primi camion e molti uomini vi salirono sopra. Indossavano uniformi e salutavano. Il borgomastro Schröder tenne un lungo discorso. Ovunque sventolavano bandiere colorate e i bambini facevano ampi cenni di saluto.
     (Italian translation by Paola Moro)

The French and American versions of the first page can be discussed together, as the American translation is a fairly true account of the French source text in English.14 In the first two sentences of the French original text the first-person narrator introduces herself—her name and her country—to the reader in simple, short main clauses. A description of her town follows, some of the elements of which—a fountain, high houses—can be seen in the picture. This is all the background information the readers are given before a change is registered with regret: "Mais un jour les premiers camions sont arrives" ("But one day the first trucks arrived"). There is a switch to the past tense to describe this event, the following page continues in the present tense. From Rose's childish perspective the men who left the town were not soldiers, but "habillés en soldats," "dressed as soldiers." The first-person narrative is situated in the present; the eyewitness account creates an immediacy and an illusion of presentness that position the readers alongside Rose as participants in the story. The picture validates what Rose says but it also provides much more information than she can. The contrast is great between the sparse, simple verbal narrative that reflects the young girl's limited perception and the hyper-realistic visual narrative which shows the Nazi flags, the mayor with his Hitler moustache, the cheering of the crowds and, later, scenes of war and destruction, persecution and genocide beyond the cognitive reach of the young narrator-witness. Things are shown in the verbal narrative whose signifiers never occur in the verbal text: "Nazi," "war," or later, "concentration camp." With the final foreboding sentence, "Winter was beginning," the season is used to frame the story, which ends with the coming of spring and the somewhat sentimental final sentence above the scene of blossoming flowers "Le printemps chantait," "Spring sang." Natural phenomena are used throughout the story to shed light on Rose's state of mind: "everything was frozen," "the sky was grey."

The British translation by Ian McEwan15 starts with a global statement on the nature of war by a third-person omniscient narrator and intimates a tragic ending. The narrator is firmly in charge and provides an interpretative framework for a story about war and about, but not of, Rose. Rose doesn't address the readers in McEwan's version; they don't experience her version of her story directly. Unlike in the original, Germany is not introduced as Rose's country but as the country "the men from the town went off to fight for," placing the readers in a different position regarding the events narrated. They are presented with a distanced view of another time and another place rather than events which are unfolding before a young girl's eyes. Rose's mother, the waving, the marching band, the cheering, the fat mayor—these are all verbalized elements of the picture; McEwan doesn't trust the visual narrative to tell its story, or the readers to decipher it, and reduces the pictures to mere illustrations of his verbal text. McEwan's "verbally didactic" narrative (McCann and Hiller 53) shifts the balance between the visual and the verbal narratives.16

The German translation by Abraham Teuter transposes the original text into a third-person narrative in the past tense—"Rose Blanche lived in a small town in Germany. The streets of the town were narrow, there were old fountains and tall houses with pigeons on their roofs"—placing a greater distance between narrator, the events narrated, and the reader. The third-person narrator is not omniscient, however; the perspective remains that of a child, both in language and in scope. There are some additions and one omission in this passage. We are told that the "men wearing uniforms waved" and that "Mayor Schröder made a long speech. Colorful flags were hanging everywhere and the children waved." Although he can be seen in six of Innocenti's pictures, the unnamed mayor is actually only mentioned twice in the original text, both instances during the episode of the boy's escape and recapture. Bürgermeister Schröder is given a name and an individual identity in Teuter's text; he is mentioned no fewer than seven times and features prominently at the beginning and the end of the narrative. Indeed, the mayor has the last word on the final opening; the postwar postscript in which the German text accompanying the picture (in the original: "Le printemps chantait," "Spring sang") does not refer to the season but to the going-on in the town: "In der Stadt waren die Kinder gemeinsam mit ihren Müttern damit beschäftigt, die Trümmer wegzuräumen. Bürgermeister Schröder war weit weg." ("In the town the children and their mothers were busy clearing away the rubble. Mayor Schröder was far away"). The final text leaves the reader wondering about failed justice, and the whereabouts of Nazi enforcers and watchdogs while others were left to rebuild Germany. The omission at the end of the passage on the first page is the reference to winter, just as the reference to spring is omitted from the end. The German translation thus resists the cyclical time structure and its "idyllic mode" (Stan 24).

The Spanish and Italian translations begin, "Rose Blanche lived in a small town in Germany. The streets of the town were narrow, there were old fountains and tall houses with pigeons on their roofs." In both "el alcade Schroeder" or "il borgomastro Schröder" gives a speech—the same mayor who made his first appearance in the German edition. These translations are not based on the French original or its American translation, as are the Dutch or Danish ones, for example, but are translations of the German version, even to the extent of adopting a translational error made by Teuter.17 The Italian translation is—with only one small omission—a word-for-word translation of the German; the Spanish translation has a few minor omissions and three additional sentences which were in the French original but not in the German version, showing that the translator obviously worked with both. The only significant change occurs at the end: the German text about the town-dwellers and Mayor Schröder is replaced by "Habia Ilegado la primavera" ("Spring arrived")—a less poetic version of the singing spring in the French original.

Innocenti wrote of the translations: "There are things in the books which have appeared in different languages which are also a mystery to me" (Letter). One can imagine his surprise at the appearance of a "borgomastro Schröder" in the Italian version when, five years after its initial publication, the book was finally issued in his native language. But how can we explain the mysteries of the different translations?


The comparison of the opening passage of the original and five translations has revealed significant variations. The story of Rose Blanche is told differently to disparate audiences. In each the pictorial verbal narrative remains the same; the variable elements are the verbal narrative and the relationship between the verbal and visual narratives. What does each version reveal about the implied readers constructed by the translations?18

The narrator of the American translation tries to mimic that of the French original, reproducing in a different language the tone and content of the source text. With no major shift in tense or perspective, leaving the same narrative and cognitive gaps, it constructs implied readers of the translation of whom no more and no less is expected than of those of the original version. Both verbal texts leave the pictures to do a lot of the narrative work. The text indicates a possible way to read the pictures, but doesn't dictate how they are to be read. By emphasizing universal elements rather than specific elements of a certain culture, the verbal text has the character of a fable. With the first-person narration in the present tense, the distance between readers and protagonist is minimized.

With his initial pronouncements and change in person and tense, the omniscient narrator of the British translation positions the readers at a greater distance from the protagonist and the events. There is almost a sense that British readers are being protected from having to identify with a German character and story. This is underscored by the positioning of Germany at the outset as the country for which the war was fought (and by implication, Britain's enemy), rather than the country the young girl comes from, with whose story the readers are about to engage. McEwan's amplified version is emphatic; it leaves the readers little space in which to negotiate their responses to what they see and what they read.19 McEwan casts his narrative in the mold of a realistic, historical novel, describing, for instance, everyday living conditions of the townspeople during the war illustrated in the pictures. But he also adds explanations such as the following: "There were long queues outside the shops, but no one grumbled. Everybody knew that food was needed for the soldiers who were always hungry."

Unlike readers from most other cultures, German (adult) readers of Rosa Weiss are implicated in the story that is told. In the pictures they see scenes from their history. The propaganda graffiti—mere documentary decoration for readers of other languages—can be deciphered by them: they can appreciate the bitter irony of the writing on the wall in the eleventh opening "Deutschland siegt an allen Fronten" ("Germany will be victorious on all fronts"), in front of which maimed German soldiers are retreating, or the saying on the wall as backdrop to the scene in which the Red Army troops liberate the town, "Den Krieg gewinnen wir und kein anderer" ("We will win this war, and no one else"). The German translator Teuter was aware of the difference between the German audience and that of the original text and wrote that "Germany is the land of the heirs" (Schulte 1653). His translation was, therefore, specifically for the heirs. This translation for German readers refers to issues beyond the tale of Rose. Added to the story of the saintly German girl—told here in the third person, perhaps to distance the German reader from an easy identification with the positive figure—is the Bürgermeister Schröder subplot about a Nazi who got away in the end, raising the questions of guilt and retribution. A larger canvas of responsibility is offered by opening the verbal narrative to include more than the fate of one innocent child. Also added to the German translation are references to returning Holocaust survivors from the camps after the defeat of the German troops: "Mit den Soldaten in den fremden Uniformen waren auch Leute gekommen, die vor einigen Jahren aus der Stadt verschwunden waren. Sie suchten nach Freunden, oft vergeblich" ("With the soldiers in foreign uniform people also arrived who had disappeared from the town some years previously. They looked for their friends, frequently in vain.").20

It is a moral translation for German readers, but it is not a moralizing one. It gives the readers space to think their own thoughts, doesn't force a message upon them. Dispensing with the nature symbolism and ending with the pragmatism of the immediate postwar phase and talk about reconstruction, it is, overall, a less poetic narrative than the French original, less a tale of universal deeds and more rooted in historical fact. Perhaps the translator didn't feel that the story could or should be told "poetically" in German(y).

These elements were introduced for the implied German readers of Teuter's translation with their special relationship to the story. It is therefore surprising to see that the Spanish and Italian translations are based on the German version. An initial reaction to the Italian decision (less direct in Spain's case) is to ask whether it could have something to do with the shared fascist past of the Italian and German allies in the Second World War. Could the same desire persist in Italy to work through this period in (children's) literature, to point an accusatory finger at the perpetrators in their own country? But unlike in Germany there are virtually no Italian children's books about the fascist period. A more probable explanation is that the perspective of the German translation proved more attractive to the other translators (or their publishers) not because of the cultural identity of the implied readers, but because they felt that the verbal story told in this manner—a third-person narrative that does not focus exclusively on the fate of one innocent child—was more accessible to or acceptable for child readers.

The French original and the American translation give the readers a greater sense of freedom in interpretation, but, as Hugo McCann and Claire Hiller remark, "it depends upon one being able to interpret the pictorial detail and combine it with Rose's words in a very informed way" (54). The book places child readers who know nothing of the historical situation in an uncomfortable position, even arguably subjecting them to some sense of responsibility for what happens without understanding what it is about. This could be why McEwan undertook to overwrite the information, to make the story more accessible (in his opinion) for children. The copious details and explanations added by him in his realistic fictional mode may help child readers to make sense of elements in the story. But, as Susan Stan remarked, in its attempt "to make Innocenti's story into realistic historical fiction, McEwan has reduced it from a text with multiple meanings to a history lesson" (31), which was neither an aesthetic nor a critical success.

Rose Blanche raises all kinds of audience issues. How much do the readers know, how much do they need to know? Where should they be placed in terms of distance to the events narrated? Where should the verbal narrative place the readers in relation to the pictorial narrative sequence? We have seen these questions addressed by each translation in its own way. The discussion of the translation and reception of Rose Blanche in the respective countries has shown how acceptable this picture book treatment of the war and Holocaust topic was deemed to be and how translators tried to make it accessible specifically for readers in their languages.


1. Roberto Innocenti, the international prize-winning, self-taught Italian illustrator of stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann, Charles Dickens, Carlo Collodi, and others, was unable to find a publisher for his first book Rose Blanche. Thanks to the patronage of Etienne Delessert the book was published in Switzerland in 1985. Susan Stan provides a detailed account of the publication history.

2. I am very grateful to Roberto Innocenti, who sent a generous and copious response to my written inquiry, in which he told about the background to and his work on Rose Blanche. Quotations from this letter have been translated by me with a little help from Susan Cox and Diego Ceroni.

3. The photograph was taken by the SS Officer Jürgen Stroop, who documented the activities of the Nazis in Warsaw.

4. Innocenti had composed a very slim text to accompany the pictures and wrote that Gallaz's was in the same vein, even keeping some of his phrases, such as "the fleeing soldiers saw in every shadow the advancing enemy" (Letter).

5. The perspective reflects Innocenti's own experience of the war—he was born near Florence in 1940. He wrote that he wanted to illustrate how a child experiences war without really understanding it.

6. Innocenti reported that an American teacher wrote to him about how astounded her pupils were to see the Russians in the liberation scene; only through his book did they discover that the Russians were the USA's allies in that war.

7. Susan Stan tells us that there was "dissatisfaction with Coventry's translation" and that Graglia "was brought in to rewrite the translation" (23).

8. Thanks are due to Anette Øster Steffensen for sending me a copy of the Danish translation.

9. Yoshida, Junko kindly provided the details of the Japanese translations as well as the transcriptions of the titles and translators' names.

10. I am grateful to Mieke Desmet for the copy of the Chinese edition of Innocenti's picturebook published by Grimm Press, for her helpful remarks on the translation, and for romanticizing the bibliographical details. For information on the Grimm Press and its translation policy, see Desmet.

11. A possible reason is the costly production of such an opulent picture book in a market that traditionally focused on producing "affordable" books. (Tom Peterson, Innocenti's publisher at The Creative Company, disagrees with this theory, stating that he has sold a number of the author's books to Eastern European countries. He believes that the subject matter is a difficult one in this region; furthermore, he has had no contact with Eastern European publishers, so they may not be aware of Rose Blanche's existence.) I am indebted to the postgraduate Serbian student, Tijana Obradovic, who checked through all the online library catalogues in the Cyrillic alphabet on my behalf.

12. "Wow!! This picture book works on so many different levels. I just read it to my 23 sixth graders. Very powerful stuff. As an introduction to the Holocaust, I'd rank this book #1 … it will evoke a boatload of questions amongst your readers (and listeners!). Excellent writing craft to study!! The unfolding of the story will make readers predict and predict. (…) Buy it, read it, buy one for a friend!!" (Frank Murphy, review on

13. The Gold Medal at the Biennial of Illustrations in Bratislava (BIB) in 1985, the American Library Association's Mildred L. Batchelder Award in 1986, Special Mention by the Jury at the Premio Gráfico at the Bologna Fair in 1986, and the German Gustav Heinemann Peace Award in 1987.

14. The American version has only some minor variations; the adjective "old" is attributed to the fountains, the second and third sentences of the source text are run together, "mais" (but) is omitted in the fourth sentence, and only one truck rather than a number of them is mentioned. Where the present tense is used throughout much of the first part of the French original, the American text often switches to the past. The historic present, which is the present tense as basic narrative mode common in French and German children's stories, is frequently translated into the past tense in English (see Lathey).

15. According to Innocenti, the editor at Jonathan Cape, the publishers of the British version, wanted a longer, more narrative text for the British version. Ian McEwan was already an established author at Cape when he was approached by them to write his version of Rose Blanche, with the published titles First Love, Last Rites (1975), In between the Sheets (1978), The Cement Garden (1978), and The Comfort of Strangers (1981). It is tempting to ask whether his first foray into the world of children's literature with Rose Blanche (his children's novel The Daydreamer was published in 1994) inspired the comic passage in his 1987 novel, The Child in Time, in which he describes the acute discomfort of an author who wanted to write an adult novel finding himself placed in the children's department of his publishing house.

16. It is not uncommon in translation of picture books for the pictures to stimulate the translator to verbalize elements of the visual narrative, thus filling semantic gaps of the source text and sometimes even demoting the images to mere illustrations of the verbal story by the narrator of the translation (see O'Sullivan, "Translating").

17. The French text accompanying the scene in which Rose discovers the concentration camp reads: "(…) Et derrière eux, des enfants qui se tiennent immobiles, et des maisonnettes de bois" (Behind [the electric barbed wire] children who were standing motionless, and small wooden huts). The German translation writes "Dahinter standen Kinder, unbeweglich wie Holzpuppen" (Behind it children were standing, as motionless as wooden puppets), obviously having read "marionnettes" for "maisonnettes." The Spanish and Italian translations follow suit, writing about "niños, inmóviles como muñecos" (immobile as wooden puppets) and "bambini, immobili come il legno" (immobile as a piece of wood).

18. In my book Comparative Children's Literature I have developed a theoretical and analytical tool that links the fields of narratology and translation studies and operates with the categories of "the implied translator," "the narrator of the translation," and "the implied reader of the translation."

19. This is especially apparent in the text of the final page. In the French and American versions the readers have to decide how to resolve the juxtaposition of Rose's death and spring, with the verbal text describing the season change, and the picture retaining the memory of what happened on that site. In McEwan's version the language of war is tastelessly used to describe spring invading the landscape: "The cold retreated, fresh grasses advanced across the land. There were explosions of colour. Trees put on their bright new uniforms and paraded in the sun. Birds took up their positions and sang their simple message. Spring had triumphed."

20. Susan Stan sees Teuter's insertion of this new material as "intended to mould the events into a more palatable outcome" (29), "minimizing the reality of the six million who did not survive" (28). I cannot agree with this interpretation. In contrast to the French original, Teuter's verbal text draws attention to the victims of the Holocaust—to those who didn't return—and raises questions of guilt and responsibility.

Works Cited

Beckmann, Rolf, A. Klare, and R. Koch, eds. Kinder als Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Materialienband zu Rosa Weiss. Frankfurt: Alibaba, 1986.

Desmet, Mieke. "Connecting Local and Global Literatures or Driving on a One-Way Street? The Case of the Taiwanese Grimm Press." Children's Literature Global and Local: Social and Aesthetic Perspectives. Ed. Emer O'Sullivan, Kimberley Reynolds, and Rolf Romøren. Oslo: Novus Press, forthcoming.

Innocenti, Roberto. Letter to the author. 23 June 2003.

Innocenti, Roberto, and Christophe Gallaz. Rose Blanche. Lausanne: Editions 24 Heures, 1985.

———. Trans. Inger Christensen. København: Gyldendal, 1986.

———. Trans. Martha Coventry and Richard Graglia. Mankato, MN: Creative Education, 1985.

———. Trans. Rose Lagercrantz. Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren, 1988.

———. Roosje Weiss. Trans. Ingrid Nijkerk-Pieters. Doornik, Belgium: Casterman, 1985.

———. Rosa Bianca. Trans. Paola Moro. Pordenone: Edizioni C'era una volta, 1990.

———. Rosa Blanca. Trans. Maribel G. Martínez. Salamanca: Lóguez Ediciones, 1987.

———. Rosa Weiss. Trans. Abraham Teuter. Frankfurt am Main: Alibaba-Verlag, 1986.

———. Rozu Blanchu. Trans. Nakano, Koji and Nagai, Kazuma. Tokyo: Heiwano Atorie, 1990.

———. Shirobarawa dokoni. Trans. Osada, Hiroshi. Tokyo: Misuzu shobo, 2000.

———. Tie s wăng shàng de xiăo huă. Trans. Lín Hăi Īn. Taipei: Grimm P, 1998.

Innocenti, Roberto, and Ian McEwan. Rose Blanche. London: Jonathan Cape, 1985.

Lathey, Gillian. "Time, Narrative Intimacy and the Child: Implications of the Transition from the Present to the Past Tense in the Translation into English of Children's Texts." Meta 48 (2003) 1-2: 233-40.

McCann, Hugo, and Claire Hiller. "Narrative and Editing Choices in the Picture Book. A Comparison of Two Versions of Roberto Innocenti's Rose Blanche." Papers—Explorations into Children's Literature 5 (1994) 2+3: 53-56.

Murphy, Frank. Review of Rose Blanche, by Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz. 27 July 2003.

O'Sullivan, Emer. Comparative Children's Literature. London and New York: Routledge, 2005.

———. "Translating Pictures." Signal 90 (1999): 167-75.

Peterson, Tom. E-mail to the author. 28 Dec. 2004.

Russell, David. "Hope among the Ruins: Children, Picture Books, and Violence." Para*doxa. Studies in World Literary Genres 2 (1996) 3-4: 346-56.

Schulte, Birgitta M. "In dieser Drastik beispiellos." Börsenblatt 43 (1986): 1652-54.

Stan, Susan. "Rose Blanche in Translation." Children's Literature in Education 35 (2004) 1: 21-33.

Teuter, Abraham, and Anne Freitag. "Jury hat sich für das Wegschauen entschieden." Börsenblatt 72 (1987): 2328.

Thiele, Jens. "Offener Brief an Anne Freitag und Abraham Teuter vom Alibaba Verlag." Eselsohr (1987) 8: 7.

Walter, Virginia, and Susan March. "Juvenile Picture Books about the Holocaust: Extending the Definitions of Children's Literature." Publishing Research Quarterly 9 (1993) 3: 36-51.



McCann, Hugo, and Claire Hiller. "Narrative and Editing Choices in the Picture Book. A Comparison of Two Versions of Roberto Innocenti's Rose Blanche." Papers—Explorations into Children's Literature 5, nos. 2-3 (1994) 53-6.

Compares the textual differences between two versions of Rose Blanche.

Review of Rose Blanche, by Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti. School Library Journal 34, no. 5 (January 1988): 37.

Offers a positive assessment of Rose Blanche.

Review of Rose Blanche, by Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti. Publishers Weekly 243, no. 34 (19 August 1996): 69.

Evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of Rose Blanche.

Additional coverage of Innocenti and Gallaz's lives and careers are contained in the following sources published by Thomson Gale: Contemporary Authors, Vol. 238; Children's Literature Review, Vol. 56; Literature Resource Center; Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Ed. 2; Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults Supplement, Ed. 1; and Something about the Author, Vols. 96, 162, 159.