Qui a tué Cécile? by Teresa Torgoff
Ms. Smith teaches English to French teenagers. One day her 10th-graders play a strange game where a few students secretly choose a classmate to be “eliminated”, in this case Cécile, and then the rest have to guess “Who killed Cécile?” Then both Cécile and the boy who picked her disappear. Suddenly, it’s not just a game anymore. Anaïs, a girl who often finds herself alone at home and in class, begins to find some disturbing clues. This novella (3,600 words) was written for American high school students studying French, in level 2. Its basic grammar and vocabulary (950 original words, with only a few vocabulary footnotes) make it easy to understand, but at the same time readers will find themselves fascinated by its subtle plot and psychological depth. LEVEL 2
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This captivating novella is a fun read all the way through. I hadn’t ever played Mafia in my class and did so right after reading this book. Now my students want to play all the time! There’s so much to enjoy in this book, both from a teacher’s and a learner’s perspective. Chapters end at a high point of tension, characters are revealed slowly and have depth, cultural tidbits are included naturally, and the balance of narration and dialogue is perfect. Teresa’s teen characters act and speak like real teenagers. Qui a tué Cecile is the perfect choice for a whole class novel and students will definitely want to act out the scenes. But be sure to keep it out for independent reading because they will certainly want to reread it!
If you have ever played the game "mafia" in class with students, they will love this story. The intriguing plot offers lots of opportunity to do retells of events, and the suspense is cunningly woven into the plot until the very end. Intermediate French language learners will devour this thriller.