When World War I began in 1914, both Jim and Jules enlisted. But as always, Jules was two minutes late for everything. Two minutes behind Jim to get his uniform, in training and even to to catch the boat over to the war. It was those two minutes however that have a lasting effect on both their lives.
Jacques Goldstyn delivers a poignant tale about two friends, one of whom dies just before the Armistice comes into effect on November 11, 1918. Goldstyn is a renowned illustrator whose career was born out of a request to illustrate a children's science book. At the time he was working as a geologist!
The Eleventh Hour was written in memory of George Lawrence Price, who is generally considered to be the last Canadian soldier to die on November 11, 1918. Price was conscripted into the army on October 15, 1917. He had fought in several important battles including the Battle of Amiens and he also had been gassed. Price was killed in Mons, Belgium.
|George Lawrence Price|
Like George Lawrence Price, Jim also dies two minutes before the Armistice goes into effect. A devastated Jules, who survived because he was always two minutes behind Jim, returns to Canada and tries to pick up life after the war. However, without his best friend Jim to lead him, Jules soon discovers a huge hole in his life. One thing Jules does do is to honour his friend's sacrifice by attending the ceremonies at the local cenotaph on November 11.
Goldstyn's book is dedicated to his grandfather, Michel Quelever who did survive the First World War, physically uninjured. The Eleventh Hour is illustrated with Goldstyn's signature cartoon-style ink and watercolour drawings which effectively capture the depths of the friendship between the two boys and the horror and chaos of war. The Eleventh Hour is a longer picture book which portrays the sacrifice made by Canadian soldiers in World War I.
For more information about George Lawrence Price.
The Canadian Virtual War Memorial Page.
The Eleventh Hour by Jacques Goldstyn
Toronto: Owlkids Books Inc. 2018