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Catherine Certitude

Region: Western Europe, France

Author: Patrick Modiano

Original Language: French

Translator: William Rodarmor

Illustrator: Jean-Jacques Sempé 

Characters: Catherine, Papa, Mister Casterade

Descriptors: ballet; family; fathers and daughters; growing up in Paris

Age: 7-11 years old


In this charming father-daughter story, Catherine retells of her childhood growing up in Paris with her Papa. Her mother was from America and had gone back to live in New York City as a professional ballerina while Catherine and her Papa remained in Paris for business. They lived there together for three years, during which the story takes place. Papa and his moody partner, Mister Casterade, run a packaging business, but it is implied that it may have been a smuggling operation. Catherine would spend much of her time at their business; Mister Casterade would often read French poetry to her and insist on helping with her homework, although it would often be unproductive. One day, when they were fixing a package filled with broken ballerina figurines, Papa asked Catherine if she would like to learn ballet. The book is filled with an artistic storytelling about a young girl who loves to dance and adores her father. Originally published in French in 1988, Catherine Certitude won the Nobel Prize in Literature award. With its lightly sketched watercolor illustrations, this slow-paced tale muses about the past and is nostalgic for the childhood of growing up in Paris. 

More About This Book

Reviewed: print book by Andersen Press (2020). ISBN: 9781783449828. 


Reviewed by Laney Jones

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