A Soldier's Sketchbook | Penguin Random House Canada

A Soldier’s Sketchbook

The Illustrated First World War Diary of R.H. Rabjohn

Publisher: Tundra Books
A unique First World War diary, illustrated with more than a hundred stunning pencil sketches, for children learning history and also for adults interested in a new perspective on the War and authentic wartime artefacts.

Russell Rabjohn was just eighteen years old when he joined up to fight in the First World War. In his three years of soldiering, he experienced the highs and lows of army life, from a carefree leave in Paris to the anguish of seeing friends die around him. Like many soldiers, he defied army regulations and recorded everything he saw and felt in a small pocket diary.
Private Rabjohn was a trained artist, and as such he was assigned to draw dugouts, map newly captured trenches, and sketch the graves of his fallen comrades. This allowed him to carry an artist's sketchbook on the battlefield--a freedom he put to good use, drawing everything he saw. Here, in vivid detail, are images of the captured pilot of a downed German biplane; the horrific Flanders mud; a German observation balloon exploding in midair; and the jubilant mood in the streets of Belgium when the Armistice is finally signed. With no surviving veterans of the First World War, Rabjohn's drawings are an unmatched visual record of a lost time.
Award-winning author John Wilson brings his skills as a historian and researcher to bear, carefully curating the diary to provide context and tell the story of Private Rabjohn's war. He has selected each of the diary entries and the accompanying images, and has provided the background that modern-day readers need to understand what a young soldier went through a century ago. The result is a wonderfully detailed and dramatic account of the war as seen through an artist's eyes.


PRAISE FOR A Solider's Sketchbook:

"The extracts from the diary describe intimate wartime experiences of death and destruction in gruesomely dispassionate terms . . . it's a story of unmitigated horror, highlighting more than any textbook the futility of war . . . This unique compilation of firsthand impressions of the Great War will be a valuable resource for adults and teens with an interest in this turning point in world history." --Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

"The excellent and succinct text . . . provides context for Rabjohn's short diary entries, many of which merely scratch the surface of the suffering he experienced during his time at war." --Starred Review, Quill & Quire 

"A Soldier’s Sketchbook is a remarkably singular addition to the extensive body of literature devoted to Canadians in 'The Great War.'" --CM Magazine

"[A Soldier's Sketchbook] is a captivating introduction to the realities of the Great War." --Booklist 

"Ideal for sophisticated readers for its firsthand account of World War I." --School Library Journal

PRAISE FOR Wings of War:

"Wilson writes eloquently about one boy's love of flight and his dream of flying . . . Thoroughly engaging." --Kirkus Reviews

"Teen fiction rarely gets so involved with notions of morality in war. A thoughtful, provocative work." --Booklist

PRAISE FOR Dark Terror:

"A fascinating war tale that will have young readers digging in for a captivating read." --Kirkus Reviews

"A fast-moving, gripping take on a little-explored side of the war effort." --National Reading Campaign