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Reader Reviewed
Catherine Certitude by Patrick Modiano

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One of our Books of the Year 2015 From her apartment block in New York, Catherine Certitude thinks back to her childhood and growing up with her father in Paris. The life she describes is uneventful: adult conversations half-understood; dance school; her Papa’s shop and his slightly shady business deals. Nonetheless it’s full of character, humour and a singular charm. “Life, it’s just you and me,” says her father, and at special moments the two of them take off their glasses, sharing a blurry and softer world. Years later, Catherine’s memories are vivid, the world of the 10th arrondissement where a little girl walked with her father, crystal clear. Sempé’s ink and watercolour illustrations enchant too. ~ Andrea Reece

Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Sophie, age 9 - 'Amazing! This book is so lovely, a beautiful story about a man and his daughter. The illustrations are perfect too.'
  • Cajsa, age 9 - 'This was a unique story. Although it was a fairly short story, there was lots packed into it.  I told my Mum to read it and she loved it too!'
  • Chloe, age 11 - 'This book is perfect for anyone loving mystery, ballet, Paris and New York.'
  • Dulcie Johnson, age 11 - 'A beautiful book. It appears simple but is actually very deep and beautifully crafted. A story of a girl's time with her father as a child. Measured but very moving.'
  • Georgie Docwra, age 9 - 'A beautifully illustrated book.'
  • Isabel, age 7 - 'A lovely story and I liked the dancing in it.'
  • Iona Maciver, age 12 - 'I thought Catherine Certitude was a great book and I would recommend it to a friend.'
  • Destiny Spurdens, age 9 - 'If you enjoy reading about peoples' pasts, the good and bad memories of others, this is definitely worth a read.'
  • Molly Betts, age 9 - 'I liked this book because it was a kind of diary of this little girl called Catherine Certitude who loves to dance, just like her mother in Germany.'
  • Eloise Mae Clarkson, age 13 - 'This book was good. I liked how the characters were described well and made me laugh...I loved the illustrations in it, they were brilliant.'
  • Erica Motoc, age 9 - 'I very much enjoyed the happy ending of the book. Although some words were for grown-ups, most of them were easy to read and understand.'
  • Rosie Watch - 'Its beauty is in its simplicity and Catherine's belief in her father. It is also beautifully illustrated adding somehow to the French flavour. A very enjoyable read.'


Catherine Certitude by Patrick Modiano

This is a classic French story from Nobel Prize-winner Patrick Modiano and celebrated illustrator Jean-Jacques Sempe. Beautifully illustrated, this is a love letter to Paris, ballet and childhood for fans of The Little Prince, Le Petit Nicholas and Madeline.

Catherine lives with her gentle father, Georges Certitude, who runs a shipping business in Paris with a failed poet named Casterade. Father and daughter share the simple pleasures of daily life: sitting in the church square, walking to school, going to her ballet class every Thursday afternoon. But just why did Georges change his name to Certitude? What kind of trouble with the law did Casterade rescue him from? And why did Catherine's ballerina mother leave to return to New York?

Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2014 “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”.


'This lovely book suggests the delicacy and strength of an eggshell.' Publishers Weekly

'The stylish watercolour illustrations are lively, conveying the warmth and the quiet wit of the text.' School Library Journal

'What particularly engages is the way Modiano captures memories of childhood: fragmented, misunderstood, but glowing in the crucible of recollection' Booklist

About the Author

Patrick Modiano is a celebrated French novelist, author of numerous books for adults and children. His work has been translated into over 30 languages. Notable awards include the Grand Prix du Roman de l'Academie Francaise, the Prix Goncourt and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. In 2014 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 'for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies.'

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Book Info

Publication date

11th December 2014


Patrick Modiano

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Andersen Press Ltd


80 pages
Interest Age: From 9 to 11 years


9+ readers
11+ readers

Classic fiction (Children's / Teenage)



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