Letters to a Prisoner

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Pub Date Sep 15 2017 | Archive Date Dec 20 2017


Told entirely through illustrations, Letters to a Prisoner is a wordless story about the power of hope and the written word. Inspired by Amnesty International’s letter-writing campaigns to help free people who have been jailed for expressing their opinion, the book tells the story of a man who is arrested during a peaceful protest. In solitary confinement, he begins to despair—until a bird delivers a letter of support written by somebody outside the prison. Every day more missives arrive until the prisoner escapes his fate on wings made of letters.

Simple illustrations convey plenty of rich symbolism to provoke thought and discussion. A letter from the author provides more information about Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign.

Told entirely through illustrations, Letters to a Prisoner is a wordless story about the power of hope and the written word. Inspired by Amnesty International’s letter-writing campaigns to help free...

A Note From the Publisher

- Sophisticated wordless picture book that explores letter-writing and human connection

- Shows the power of the written word to drive change

- Ties to social justice curriculum and current events

- Key resource for International Human Rights Day, December 10th

- Sophisticated wordless picture book that explores letter-writing and human connection

- Shows the power of the written word to drive change

- Ties to social justice curriculum and current events

Advance Praise

"Goldstyn was inspired by the letter-writing campaigns of human rights organization Amnesty International. His book is an accessible and inspiring tribute. "The pen is mightier than the sword" lives on."" - Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"Goldstyn was inspired by the letter-writing campaigns of human rights organization Amnesty International. His book is an accessible and inspiring tribute. "The pen is mightier than the sword" lives...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781771472517
PRICE $18.95 (USD)

Average rating from 65 members

Featured Reviews

Letters to a Prisoner is a wordless story inspired by Amnesty International’s letter-writing campaigns to help free people who have been jailed for expressing their opinion, The book is wordless and tells the story of a man arrested during a peaceful protest. It is the story of hope, a story of the power of the pen to help, as well as the idea that everyone can do something to free these political prisoners. The illustrations are simple yet convey a powerful message. There is a letter from the author at the end of the book that explains about the campaign and the book. I recommend that you read the letter first if you are not familiar with this campaign. An ideal book to use with a middle grades classroom studying civil rights, power of speech and/or Social Justice. This book should be in all middle and high school libraries.

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This is a really beautiful, easy to understand book about human rights and Amnesty International. This it would be a great classroom book for teaching about human rights, empathy and connotation since it is wordless.

Thank you NetGalley for an ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.

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When you are imprisoned for your values, for what you believe in, the point is to break you down. To leave you without hope, as this wordless story tells the story of one prisoner, torn from his family for believing in something different from what the government believes in.

And then, he gets a letter, and more letters, and more letters telling him to not despair, that he is not alone.

This book is based on the program that Amnesty Internatinal does, writing letters to prisoners who are in jail for their beliefs. Very simple, easy to "read' story, good for adults, and for kids as a point of discussion.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

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A powerful wordless picture book that demonstrates the power of word to untie the masses. Well done.

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When a peaceful protester becomes a despairing political prisoner a letter brings hope back into his life. Soon letters arrive from all types of people around the world. Showing the power of words and how they can lift someone up in their lowest moments, the prisoner uses the plethora of letters to make wings and fly from his cell. The lovely illustrations tell the story as this is a wordless book.

This is a powerful book and a great springboard for discussions of human rights, political prisoners, protesting, people's beliefs/convictions/political views, tolerance and problem solving without violence.

Written by Amnesty International there is an afterword explaining their letter writing campaign as well as how to participate.

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This book is lovely. Not only am I going to purchase a copy, but I want to see if my school can participate in Amnesty International's Write for Rights.

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Beautiful in every way. A #wordlessbook introduction to #HumanRights for young readers. #JacquesGoldstyn #amnestyinternational

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Disclaimer: I’m a member of Amnesty. This is a picture book, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, this one is a doorstop of a story! The author explains at the end:

”The first time I took part in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights letter-writing marathon, all sorts of people were involved—from the young and old to the famous and not-so famous. Despite our differences, we all had one thing in common: the desire to write to a person who had been unjustly imprisoned for his or her ideas.”

THAT is the point of Amnesty. To support and advocate for people who are imprisoned (unjustly) for their ideas. Prisoners of conscience, political prisoners and protestors, no matter which side of politics they represent.

Human rights are rights for everyone, not just for the people we agree with or the powerful or the elite. Everyone. Even this dad who was at a rally with his child.

[My Goodreads review has an illustration with this caption: Dad at protest rally with child is hit and jailed]

Dad is miserable in prison until a bird pops through the window with a letter which lights him up!

[My Goodreads review has an illustration with the caption: Dad reads a letter from his child.]

More people start writing to prisoners and overwhelm the system to the point that the guards are covered with piles of letters and Dad appears to fly free!

My experience with Amnesty is writing to governments to seek help for prisoners of conscience—medical attention, family visits, legal representation, and release in many cases. I am told that prisoners have reported that they can tell when people are advocating because their food improves and they get visits from doctors.

This book is another writing program - writing directly to prisoners themselves.

The beauty of this book is that it can be circulated in every country with no explanation necessary.

Thanks to NetGalley and OwlKids Books for a preview copy for review. I recommend schools and libraries order this to get conversations started among the kids.

If you'd like to help but prefer to limit yourself to "clicktivism", have a look at Amnesty International, find your home country, and sign some petitions!

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A fantastic book. The illustrations tell the story brilliantly. This book could be a great way to start having critical discussions about the prison-for-profit system, injustice that often happens in prisons, who ends up in jail and the social and political reasons why, etc.

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This stunning book tells a compelling story without saying a word. The illustrations provide a wealth of emotional description without a single printed word. The story and it's importance crosses lines of age, gender, ethnicity, and power, teaching us all that there is nothing so powerful as the power of one's convictions. The story that inspired this book lends itself to a rich classroom discussion of concepts such as ethics, justice, humanity, perseverance, conviction, and courage. I cannot wait to share this book with children.

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This book is for all those who hate injustice and are willing to put pen to paper and fight for truth and liberty. This wordless picture book is full of heartbreak and punishment brought upon a man and family when they are exercising their right to peacefully protest something they strongly believe in. Then the unthinkable happens. The father is apprehended by the police and thrown into prison because of his views.

He falls into despair as the days tick on and on and he is maltreated by the prison guard daily. He has no voice and no help so he sinks lower and lower into his helplessness losing all hope of getting back to his family. He finds some comfort by feeding his stale bread crumbs to a famished mouse and a random little bird that pays him visits. Day day he becomes more desperate, his heart breaks more and he feels there is no way of ever being released.

Letters start arriving for the man through his cell window. This gives him great joy but the bully guard snatches them away and incinerates them. But little does the incarcerated man know that freedom is on the way. More and more people on the outside of the prison take up this father's just cause and start sending loads of letters to have him released. In an image of escape the man flies on wings of those letters to his home and into the arms of his beloved little daughter who embraces him with sheer joy and happiness. Such a fairy-tale ending will tug at your heartstrings .... and yes they live happily together ever after he is vindicated.

The author explains to the reader at the end of the book that he was inspired by the letter-writing campaigns of the human rights organization Amnesty International to write this book. The whimsical, cartoon illustrations are kid-friendly and the message is extremely powerful. When people work together en mass to have their voice heard hearts are moved and justice can prevail. I highly recommend this book.

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Wow, this wordless book tells an exceptional story. With addition of the author's note, this one will be checked out frequently to discuss the implications of standing up for what is right and how we can help those unjustly punished. A must purchase for your collection where wordless books are popular and a call to action as an appealing follow-up activity.

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This book has no words, but conveys a very powerful message. The Circle lovers are protesting against the square lovers. A circle lover gets thrown in jail, but birds and mice help bring him letter until he can be freed. It’s hard to explain without seeing it for yourself. At the end, the author gives information about the Write for Rights campaign from Amnesty International and how his involvement in that, inspired this book.

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I was not sure what to expect when I began turning the pages of this book. The illustrations pull you in so deeply, so quickly, that Goldstyn clearly does an amazing job of reminding readers to stand by those wrongly imprisoned. That the only page with actual words said "We are with you" drives home the importance of giving hope to those wrongfully imprisoned.

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A protester is placed in prison. But through the power of words, he is set free. What a powerful picture book to use with older students!

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Amnesty International's letter writing campaigns work to raise awareness of those that have been imprisoned unjustly throughout the globe. The idea is that if people flood the prisons or jails with letters of support and requesting for freedom that those in power will realize that the person they have taken is not forgotten--and that their injustices will not go unnoticed. It is an encouragement towards freedom.

This book, without words, share the strength of written words. I think that even if I didn't already love writing letters and the idea of how powerful they can be... well, I think that I would still love and appreciate what Goldstyn has done with this book.

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This book surprised me. It is astonishing how an illustrator can tell a powerful story with only pictures. I think upper grades could use it in many ways.

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A 5 Star "read."

Impactful and insightful. This is a must buy book.

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I'm not sure what I expected from this book having read the description and finding out that it was only illustrations, but I've read it now (if read is the right word) and it is brilliant!! The illustrations portray so much and the whole concept of the book is executed so well, it deserves a massive 5 stars - brilliant book and very thought provoking!

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This is a gorgeous (mostly) wordless children's book that beautifully captures the importance of letters for political prisoners. Having worked in a correctional facility, I can say with confidence that the letters inmates of any kind receive are one of their most important tethers to the world outside -- and this book beautifully renders that concept. The author also includes information about how to get involved with Amnesty International's letter writing campaigns at the back, should a reader be so inspired.

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5 stars

This graphic novel story is, more or less, told solely through pictures. There are no words to read except in one place, and then only as accessories to the story rather than the story itself. In the story a man is unjustly imprisoned. His cell is dreary and he is without hope, that is until he begins to receive letters from the outside world. Each one brings a light and spirit of encouragement which keep him going until he is free.

What an uplifting story! Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with an early copy for review. I love that this book draws attention to Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaigns. These campaigns are designed to garner support for prisoners, who like the one pictured in this story, have been unfairly imprisoned because of their beliefs. What a great way to offer them hope and encouragement until such a time as they too, like this character, can fly free.

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A man peacefully protesting is unjustly arrested and thrown into prison by the opposition. The guards snatch away any letters he gets, but when word of his plight gets out, a flood of letters helps him get out of prison.

The layout of this feels a bit like a graphic novel, but the size and length also feel like a regular picture book. It really be categorized as either one. The author’s note says that this is written in honor of Amensty International’s Write for Rights that helps get encouraging letters to people unjustly imprisoned around the world. The story is told almost entirely without words (there’s one phrase from a burnt letter in several languages that floats around the world but that’s it). The two sides in the book are represented by an orange circle and a navy square so they can represent a myriad of causes and realms. Symbolism is used strategically throughout the book and is relatively easy to spot, so also useful if you're teaching that literary concept. It’s a very approachable human rights book for kids, made even better because they can actually participate in the Write for Rights if they so choose and not just be aware of the injustices but do something too. Definitely a great resource! I’ll be recommending that our elementary library purchase this.

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Letters to a Prisoner is a colorfully illustrated, hopeful story about a man wrongfully imprisoned who receives letters from around the world. Without any text (other than the author's note and a few scribbles on some letters), this is a speedy and beautiful read. I could easily see sharing this with ESL learners and the refugee kids I work with, and I hope to get a copy to pass on to my nieces.

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This is a beautiful book that conveys everything without the need for words. Touching.

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This was such a great read! I learned about Amnesty Internationals Write for Rights. What a great idea! Wordless picture book for all ages. Illustrations were wonderful!

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I really enjoyed Letters to a Prisoner and the point it makes simply and beautiful.
Letters to a Prisoner was inspired by the Amnesty International Program Write for Rights, a letter writing campaign to try to help people who are imprisoned for their alternative beliefs. The book is mostly wordless and shows in simple but beautiful illustrations how thinking differently can lead to imprisonment and how writing to the prisoner and his government can lead to freedom.
The book is very inspirational and easy for children of any age to understand. It promotes individual thinking and simplifies the war on freedoms that go one around the world so it is understandable in early life.
This is a book I will have for my children and will gift to others to help empathy and love grow in the next generation.

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This wordless book tells the story of a man who held political views in opposition to the government. The differences between the two stances are portrayed symbolically by people carrying signs with orange circles and an army with black squares. During a peaceful protest the man was arrested and thrown in prison.

The illustrations show us what it was like for him in solitary confinement and capture his descent from anger to despair.

His memories while in prison show us the man as an ordinary person with a loving family. It is a reminder that, "there but for fortune, may go you or I."

All kinds of people, old & young, famous and ordinary, from across the globe write letters in many different languages to the man in prison. When the prison is bombarded by these letters, the prisoner is finally freed.

The book ultimately highlights the importance of Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaign and shows us the power of letter writing to make change. It does this by bolstering hope and reminding prisoners that they are not alone. Ultimately it can force governments to release people and change their policies.

At the end of the book is a letter from the author providing more information about Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaign.

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This is a gorgeously illustrated book for people of all ages. Told entirely through pictures, without text, it is a fascinating way to tell a story, and a difficult feat that Goldstyn pulls off flawlessly. Letters have the power to change the world, even if only for one person, and I'm happy to see a book that acknowledges that in such a beautiful and ageless way.

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This is a short and beautiful story told only in pictures, but easily understood. It speaks about the people unjustly imprisoned for their ideas or speaking up against those who would impose their opinions on others. It also speaks about the importance of reaching up to those imprisoned people, and the effect of reaching up. A very poignant and beautiful story.

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This book made me cry...it's touching story, of a man unjustly accused during a peaceful protest and sent to prison, resonates more than ever. Told mostly through pictures, you first see the man's anger at his imprisonment and, as time passes, his despair and sadness. Then the letters come! The man receives thousands of letters from all over the world with messages of hope and strength and solidarity, creating wings that lift him through the bars and carry him to freedom. Written in honor of the Amnesty International Write for Rights program, the author has added information at the end of the book about this program and how you can participate. Lovely book with a positive and thought- provoking message.

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This book is the perfect example of not needing words, to tell a story. Compelling, moving and beautiful. This wordless story truly touched my heart.

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I'm never sure about wordless picture books. I know they have their role, but quite they often don't quite wash with me. Letters to a Prisoner, however, is one of those standouts. It is that much more powerful because of the lack of words. Of course, it helps that the illustrations are just lovely - so simple, but so meaningful. Nothing needs to be said. It's truly a a beautiful little book.

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Letters to a Prisoner is getting rave reviews, with good reason. The wordless picture book, inspired by the letter-writing campaigns of human rights organization Amnesty International, is so impactful, so relevant, and so necessary. A man is arrested during a peaceful protest, injured by a soldier who also pops the man's daughter's balloon. The man is thrown in a solitary jail cell, where he befriends a mouse and a bird. When letters arrive, the guard takes joy in burning them in front of the man, but the joke's on the guard: the smoke from the burning letters serves as a worldwide beacon. Groups of people all over send the man letters; they arrive, en masse, and turn into wings with which the prisoner soars above the helpless, infuriated guard. The watercolor over black ink sketches adds an ethereal feel to this beautiful story of hope and social justice. The book's wordlessness allows for every reader to come together, transcending language, to take part in this inspirational story. An author's note tells readers about Amnesty International's inspiration. Display and booktalk with Luis Amavisca's No Water, No Bread, and talk with little ones and their parents as you display the book during social justice and empathy themed storytimes. Letters to a Prisoner has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Quill and Quire.

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This is the story of a man unjustly accused and falsely imprisoned under harsh conditions. It may sound too harsh to be a children's picture book, but as a wordless book, it's up to the reader to create the story. As a wordless picture book, it is beautifully told and very easy to understand. 

It speaks volumes for those who are sent to prison under pretenses, and in this day and age, we need stories out like this more than ever. "Letters to a Prisoner" beautifully highlights the importance of Amnesty International's letter-writing campaign and shows us how one small gesture can bring about enormous change. 

This is a poignant and beautiful story of the power of people and never giving up hope, even when it may seem like all hope is lost. 

With all of the events surrounding the right to protest, this is a perfect book to highlight the dangers of living in a place where the government does not allow its citizens to exercise their rights. If you are looking for a book to tie in current political events in a child-friendly format, this is it. 

Recommended: All Ages

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A beautiful picture book inspired by Amnesty International's Letter Writing Campaign. This heart touching story shows how people need to come together to help the innocent prevail. I really want a physical copy of this book to add to my bookcase. I was lucky to get a digital copy from NetGalley. I will highly recommend this book to everyone of all ages.

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'Letters to a Prisoner' by Jacques Goldstyn is a wordless picture book inspired by Amnesty International's letter-wrting campaigns.

A young girl is with her father at a protest. He is arrested and thrown in jail for the protest. He thinks he has been forgotten, but he gets a letter from his daughter. That letter is found and destroyed by the guards, but when more letters keep arriving, the guards can't keep up.

There are no words, so the story could be read alone The illustrations feel a bit cartoonish, which helps the book maintain a light look, even as it deals with a dark subject. It definitely ends in hope and the power of others to affect change.

The story is appropriate for young readers, , but if I were a small child, I might have questions. I might also be afraid of a story that puts a parent in jail for seemingly no reason, so it's probably best to read together or offer to answer any questions after the book is read.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Owlkids Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.

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This wordless picture book is almost a graphic novel in style. A father and daughter head out with protest signs marked with red circles that match the little girl’s red balloon. Waiting for them though are police in deep blue, who speak with blue squares. The red circle protesters are beaten with batons and taken away to jail. The girl’s father is held in isolation, dreaming about his daughter and their time together. Suddenly, the man gets mail but the guards don’t approve of it. More and more mail arrives from the mice and birds. The guards burn the letters, but the scraps fly into the air to be found by others around the world who write more letters in response. Soon the jail is buried in letters and the letters form wings that carry the man back to his daughter.

Based on the letter writing campaigns of Amnesty International, this picture book/graphic allows young readers to not only understand that people are jailed wrongly around the world but also to have a way to help. The illustrations have a wonderful energy to them. They show the despair of the jailed man but not without small glimpses of hope in the form of small animal friends. A strong message of unity and working together for justice pervades this book. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

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I loved this! I’m always impressed when authors can tell stories without words, but this was especially powerful.

The idea that people can be imprisoned for disagreeing with the government makes me shudder. Though it seems like that’s what our current (U.S.) administration would like to do.

But the idea that we can make a difference in these people’s lives by something as simple as writing letters is amazing.

It made me want to start writing letters.

If you like sequential art of any kind check this out. Or, if you don’t, check it out anyway; you might like it.

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Amazingly gorgeous and beautiful book. I'm just shocked at how well this story was able to convey such a story without saying a word. Definitely would recommend this!

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Wow. Wow. Wow. Such a powerful wordless picture book. Get it and share it.

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Thanks NetGalley for the ARC. This well-illustrated book is thought provoking and stays with you long after you turn the last page. I recommend it.

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