Title: Fearless Frederic
Author: Felice Arena
Published by Penguin Random House Australia
RRP: $16.99 ($AUD)

Frederic lives in Paris with his mother and father. His father is a guard at the famous Louvre and on his thirteenth birthday Frederic is able to spend a night with him, on duty. But on this night thieves decide to appear, and when Frederic runs for help, his father is killed. Haunted with the feeling that he should have stayed and helped fight, Frederic must grow up quickly. Using his love and affiliation for horses, he finds work in a stables, until the floods come to Paris. Frederic and his mother must go to an evacuation centre, where he meets and becomes firm friends with Thierry and Claire. The three decide to help others in need and set out on many adventures. Some are more daring than others, and Frederic soon finds himself in dangerous situations.

I was transported to Paris from the start of this novel for younger readers. From cobbled streets to bridges over the Seine and many other famous landmarks, Arena has captured the feels, sights and smells of Paris. The narrative is dotted with snippets of common French words and phrases that are easily understood with English equivalents woven successfully into the writing. Characterisation is strong and the plot is well paced. Frederic grows into a fine young man throughout the novel, faced with many ordeals and predicaments.

Booktalk

This booktalk is suitable for upper primary and lower secondary students.

On the day Frederic turns thirteen he joins his father on his nightly duty of guarding the treasures in Paris’ Louvre. But when thieves pay a visit, Frederic is faced with the choice of running for help or staying to fight with his father.

Read pages 35 – 38, chapter title voleurs Thieves.

Frederic’s father dies in the attack and as a result he hardly notices the rain, non-stop, that eventually causes the flooding of his city of Paris. Frederic and his mother must go to an evacuation centre where he meets two new friends, Theirry and Claire. Frederic desperately wants to find and avenge his father’s murderers but is faced instead with the act of surviving the floods. Is he able to do both?

This action packed story will take you to Paris in 1910 and the lives of Frederic and others trying to live in a difficult time.

Activity Suggestions

  • Using a map of Paris, trace the adventures of Frederic and his friends.
  • List and locate on a map the landmarks, bridges, and other Parisian sites.
  • Research, in groups or individually, various sites and artworks featured in Fearless Frederic.
  • View this archival video of the floods. It has no commentary. Write commentary for the piece.

Other resources available online

The Boy and the Spy

Another book by Felice Arena that I thoroughly enjoyed and promote often to my The boy and the spystudents is The Boy and The Spy. 

My review and booktalk can be found here.