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Reasons to study the work
The fact that Joffo manages to make this book so human and so funny is what makes it stand out from the crowd: there are plentiful books and films out there about the occupation but Un sac de billes has lessons to impart beyond encouraging people to be on the look out for persecution.
The novel is fairly long compared to other titles on the list but our resources including the full page by page vocabulary list and the complete summary mean that you don't necessarily have to cover every word in class.
The interest of the work
Joseph Joffo decided to write this engaging story of his wartime experiences as his children were growing up inorder to make them aware of the dangers they could conceivably face at some time in the future. Looking over the shoulder of his young self, Jo, and brother Maurice the author combines engaging, amusing sequences of dialogue between the boys demonstrating their innoncent view of occurences with comment from the point of view of the wiser adult.
We share with Jo and Maurice the period in history between the imposition of the yellow star and the liberation. Through the boys' experience we learn how a range of colourful people feel about the defeat of France, from the old royalist the comte de V. who drives them to the station in his carriage to a rabid right winger monsieur Mancelier who unwittingly shelters Jo. What really shines through the whole account of the period is the primal urge for survival within the family; the Joffo family has graduated from Russian persecution to being hunted down by French collaborationists and Nazis.