After going from rags to riches, Jean Valjean rescues Cosette from a life of misery. But will they escape the mysterious man who appears from Valjean’s past?
Jean Valjean — The Reformed Convict
Cosette — The Adopted Daughter
Javert — The Relentless Police Inspector
Marius Pontmercy — The Reluctant Revolutionary
After nineteen long years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s children, Jean Valjean is finally freed and ventures to the French town of Digne, where the kindness of the local bishop encourages Valjean to become an honest man. He moves to another town, strikes it rich with a new invention, and eventually becomes the town’s mayor, all under an assumed name to keep his past a secret.
One day Valjean learns that one of the workers in his factory has a child, Cosette, who is being mistreated by her caretakers, the Thénardiers. Valjean rescues Cosette and raises her in Paris. There, Inspector Javert, who has discovered Valjean’s true identity, hounds them relentlessly, eager to punish Valjean for his criminal past. Valjean protects Cosette not only from Javert but also from Marius, a law student who falls in love with her.
Believing his chance for love is lost, Marius joins a group of student revolutionaries on the streets of Paris, where Javert is discovered as a spy. Valjean, who has come to save Marius, steps in before Javert comes to any harm. Later, when Javert finally gets his chance to arrest Valjean, he is torn by the debt he owes Valjean and decides to let him go. Cosette and Marius get married, and Valjean is happy for them in his old age.
Cozy Classics uses a simple one word/one image format to help babies and toddlers build vocabulary and learn everyday concepts such as body parts, emotions, animals, relationships, actions, and opposites. However, Cozy Classics organizes everyday words in a more unique way: through story. By putting words in the context of a story, our books help children find further meaning through a growing sense of narrative.
As children get older, parents can expand on the stories in ever more elaborate ways. If you need a little help, just use the brief synopsis on the back of each book or the longer synopses (the Cozy version) above. But there’s no right or wrong way to read Cozy Classics. Use the words and images as prompts to invent stories of your own and encourage your children to do the same.
Parents can enliven their storytelling with quotations from the originals. Below are some of our favorites from Les Misérables that go well with “the Cozy version.” Quotations can lead to whole passages until one day children are enthralled by the richest versions of all: the classics themselves. Quotations from Les Misérables
- “An hour before sunset, on the evening of a day in the beginning of October, 1815, a man travelling afoot entered the little town of D——. The few persons who at this time were at their windows or their doors, regarded this traveller with a sort of distrust. It would have been hard to find a passer-by more wretched in appearance.”
- “As we have said, in the midst of this activity of which he was the cause and the pivot, Father Madeleine made his fortune; but a singular thing in a simple man of business, it did not seem as though that were his chief care. He appeared to be thinking much of others, and little of himself. In 1820 he was known to have a sum of six hundred and thirty thousand francs lodged in his name with Laffitte; but before reserving these six hundred and thirty thousand francs, he had spent more than a million for the town and its poor.”
- “Cosette was made to run on errands, to sweep the rooms, the courtyard, the street, to wash the dishes, to even carry burdens… It was a heart-breaking thing to see this poor child, not yet six years old, shivering in the winter in her old rags of linen, full of holes, sweeping the street before daylight, with an enormous broom in her tiny red hands, and a tear in her great eyes.”
- “Cosette was going away. With whom? She did not know. Whither? She knew not. All that she understood was that she was leaving the Thenardier tavern behind her. No one had thought of bidding her farewell, nor had she thought of taking leave of any one. She was leaving that hated and hating house.”
- “He turned round from time to time and looked behind him. He took care to keep always on the dark side of the street. The street was straight in his rear. The first two or three times that he turned round he saw nothing; the silence was profound, and he continued his march somewhat reassured. All at once, on turning round, he thought he perceived in the portion of the street which he had just passed through, far off in the obscurity, something which was moving.”
- “Then, without haste, but without making a useless movement, with firm and curt precision, the more remarkable at a moment when the patrol and Javert might come upon him at any moment, he undid his cravat, passed it round Cosette’s body under the armpits, taking care that it should not hurt the child, fastened this cravat to one end of the rope, by means of that knot which seafaring men call a ‘swallow knot,’ took the other end of the rope in his teeth, pulled off his shoes and stockings, which he threw over the wall, stepped upon the mass of masonry, and began to raise himself in the angle of the wall and the gable with as much solidity and certainty as though he had the rounds of a ladder under his feet and elbows. Half a minute had not elapsed when he was resting on his knees on the wall.”
- “For more than a year, Marius had noticed in one of the walks of the Luxembourg, the one which skirts the parapet of the Pepiniere, a man and a very young girl, who were almost always seated side by side on the same bench, at the most solitary end of the alley, on the Rue de l’Ouest side. Every time that that chance which meddles with the strolls of persons whose gaze is turned inwards, led Marius to that walk,—and it was nearly every day,—he found this couple there.”
- “He grasped her, she fell, he took her in his arms, he pressed her close, without knowing what he was doing. He supported her, though he was tottering himself. It was as though his brain were full of smoke; lightnings darted between his lips; his ideas vanished; it seemed to him that he was accomplishing some religious act, and that he was committing a profanation. Moreover, he had not the least passion for this lovely woman whose force he felt against his breast. He was beside himself with love.”
- “‘Be off with you, or I’ll blow up the barricade!’”
- “A man of lofty stature, enveloped in a long coat, with folded arms, and bearing in his right fist a bludgeon of which the leaden head was visible, stood a few paces in the rear of the spot where Jean Valjean was crouching over Marius. With the aid of the darkness, it seemed a sort of apparition. An ordinary man would have been alarmed because of the twilight, a thoughtful man on account of the bludgeon. Jean Valjean recognized Javert.”
- “To owe his life to a malefactor, to accept that debt and to repay it; to be, in spite of himself, on a level with a fugitive from justice, and to repay his service with another service; to allow it to be said to him, ‘Go,’ and to say to the latter in his turn: ‘Be free’; to sacrifice to personal motives duty, that general obligation, and to be conscious, in those personal motives, of something that was also general, and, perchance, superior, to betray society in order to remain true to his conscience; that all these absurdities should be realized and should accumulate upon him,—this was what overwhelmed him.”
- “‘Cosette!’ said Jean Valjean.
And he sat erect in his chair, his arms outstretched and trembling, haggard, livid, gloomy, an immense joy in his eyes.
Cosette, stifling with emotion, fell upon Jean Valjean’s breast.
‘Father!’ said she.
Jean Valjean, overcome, stammered:
‘Cosette! she! you! Madame! it is thou! Ah! my God!’”