Helen Watts Author

One Day In Oradour

Extraordinary Award winner - 2014 Southern Schools Book Award

Nominated for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal for an outstanding book for children and young people.

Shortlisted for the 2014 Education Resources Awards.

Longlisted for the Hampshire Independent Schools Book Award 2014.

Published May 2013 by
A&C Black / Bloomsbury
ISBN 978-1-4081-8201-7

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One Day in Oradour

A hot summer's day in an ordinary village.
An SS officer driven by power and revenge.
And a boy who won't take orders...

In 1944, the small French village of Oradour-sur-Glane was wiped out in a single day by an SS regiment. Only a handful of people escaped, including just one schoolchild. This novel imagines what happened on that fateful day.

Hard-hitting, shocking and deeply moving, this is a story for older readers that shows the worst of human nature, and the best.

Story summary

When seven-year-old Alfred Fournier arrived with his family in Oradour, he thought he had found a safe haven. Thrown out of his former home in Charly by the invading army, he knew what the enemy was capable of and he never forgot his promise to his parents that, if the Germans ever came to Oradour, he would go straight to the woods behind the cemetry.

So one summer's day, when a convoy of Germans troops does arrive, plucky little Alfred refuses to follow his sisters and his classmates and go to the fairground to assemble with the other villagers. No. He decides to escape.

During the hours which follow, Alfred's path is destined to cross with that of the power-hungry SS commander who has led the SS troops into the village and who holds the Fournier family's fate in his hands. As their two worlds collide, we gain a fascinating insight into the extremes and contradictions of human behaviour and emotion. With a twist in the tale, this is a story which leaves the reader surprised, inspired and profoundly moved.

Now also available in audio book format 


Find out what people are saying about One Day In Oradour

One Day In Oradour is Helen Watts' debut novel. Published in May 2013, the book has already received some excellent reviews from top crtics, school librarians and young readers and has been selected by the Southern Schools Book Award 2014 for an Extraordinary Award. It was also nominated for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal for an outstanding book for children and young people. Read the reviews.

NEW: Group Reading and Class Sets

Helen's children's books are now available for teachers to buy in Group Reading Sets (6 pupil copies plus a free teacher copy) and in Class Sets (24 pupil copies plus a free teacher copy). As well as your free teacher copy you can also make savings of up to 15% on RRP.
Find out more

Would you like to know what inspired the author to write the novel?

Click here to watch the author, Helen Watts, introducing her novel in a short film, shot on location in Oradour-sur-Glane.

Go the gallery to see pictures of the real people whose lives and actions inspired the fictional characters in the novel.

View a slide show of the memorial village at Oradour-sur-Glane. The village has been left as it was when the German troops finally withdrew in June 1944. 

Would you like to read a sample chapter?

Listen to the author reading Chapter 11 from the novel - The troops arrive.