indicates an award-winning book with the environment or nature as a theme.
GRAND PRIX DU LIVRE DE LA MONTÉRÉGIE
CHILDREN'S LITERATURE CATEGORY
Carl is mourning the loss of his pet dog Babouche. To console himself, Carl starts writing an account of Babouche's life. When Carl asks his mother for her opinion of his writing, she notices that he is writing about his feelings rather than recording the facts.
Carl believes that his mother has forgotten what the real Babouche was like. Despite his father having passed away many years before, Carl is increasingly upset because René, his friend Garry's father, has been visiting his mother more and more often. When Carl confronts his mother with his observations, they have a frank discussion, which allows him to see how much he was putting his own spin on the facts.
This text by Gilles Gauthier deals indirectly with the complex problem of relationships in a blended family. Carl's attitude and reaction towards the appearance of a new man in his mother's life (and his own) are captured through his loyalty to the animal he lost. The framework of the book is straightforward; Carl's reactions are realistic, and the large amount of dialogue gives greater intimacy to the story. The text can help parents understand children's behaviour when an outsider comes into the family as well as show children the pitfalls of interpreting the facts too quickly. There are a number of nicely done black and white drawings illustrating the text and lightening the seriousness of the subject.
(ASSOCIATION POUR L'AVANCEMENT DES SCIENCES ET DES TECHNIQUES DE LA DOCUMENTATION)
FOR THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR.
Edmond is a romantic young rat who likes to read stories about princesses in high towers, hearts pounding wildly, duels, young girls crying, and kisses from princes. Edmond secretly loves Amandine the mouse. During the day, she occupies his thoughts and at night, his dreams: he dreams of running away with her, of crossing vast forests and raging rivers together. When Edmond declares his love to her in writing, he discovers that Amandine can't read and doesn't understand the messages he has sent her. So Edmond plays teacher and begins to teach Amandine how to read. Thus he trades his fantasies of far-off adventures with Amandine for her presence near him as she works. Edmond is sure that patience will win out and that one day Amandine will write: "Edmond, I love you."
Here is a simple story of a simple love. The book's full-page gouache illustrations add substance and poetic strength to its simplicity. Bold layout, warm colours and gentle, expressive, characters make this story a delight not only for young children but also for the young at heart.
(ASSOCIATION DES ÉCRIVAINS QUÉBÉCOIS POUR LA JEUNESSE)
AWARD FOR FIRST WORK BY AN AUTHOR IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
Little Flavie lives with her mother in an apartment that has an unusual cow theme decor. Everywhere you look, you see cow-shaped salt and pepper shakers, a cow-shaped coffee pot, a cow phone, glasses with cows on them and tablecloths and sheets with cow spots. The only thing missing is a real live cow!
Arriving home from school one day, Flavie comes face to face with a real cow -- moo! -- chewing her cud in the kitchen. Her mother has turned into a cow! What can Flavie do? Neither the police nor the SPCA takes her seriously. Flavie and her grandmother meet a detective who specializes in hopeless cases. He tells them that they are not alone; many people have consulted him about similar problems. There are further developments before they reach the conclusion that these people prefer being animals.
From the outset, this story leans towards the unlikely; the reader is in a constant state of disorientation. In fact, therein lies the strength of this story: it pulls the reader's leg (or tail, if you prefer), so that the reader is kept off-balance as the story unfolds. Young readers will undoubtedly find this far-fetched story and its humourous twists and turns very enjoyable.
PRIX DU LIVRE M. CHRISTIE
(CHRISTIE BROWN & CO.)
FOR THE BEST BOOK IN FRENCH,
STELLA, ÉTOILE DE LA MER
Stella and her younger brother Sam are spending the day at the seashore. Stella feels right at home exploring, swimming and floating in the water.
As for Sam, it's his first visit to the sea, and he's a little timid. He asks Stella lots of questions about the various shells he has found, about sharks and fish, without ever leaving the safety of the beach. Stella's responses are patient and imaginative.
Gay's joyful water-colour illustrations are very detailed, particularly that of Stella's underwater visit. Many of the illustrations contain several things happening in the background: a kite being flown by a hidden child, a stand-off between a dog and a crab, and other children playing tag.
Children will recognize the feelings of uncertainty associated with trying new activities. Precocious readers will find this book amusing.
LES YEUX NOIRS
Mathieu, the main character of this story, doesn't look like anyone else. Like each of us, he is one of a kind. Adding to this uniqueness, Mathieu has been blind since birth. His other senses function as his eyes, capturing the events of the unseen world. In Mathieu's vivid imagination, the sky is plastic and the clouds feel like wool. His playmate is a teddy bear friend, who shares his joy and sadness and, recently, his impatience in waiting for the gift his parents have promised to give him on the weekend.
The message in Les yeux noirs is that a child, even one who is visually challenged, is first and foremost a child. Being blind is simply another facet of who he is and of his universe. The text makes us aware of the richness and nuances of Mathieu's interior world, while the monochrome illustrations reinforce the message. The images are similar to photographic negatives, isolating the objects from their surroundings, and reminding us that there are particularities specific to the world of the blind.
LE TEMPS S'ENFUIT
Marlon Lamontagne is a gifted young trumpet player with a passion for jazz. One day, his mother gives him an old record album, a bootleg recording of his idol, Jimmy Falcon, who died in the 1960s. Listening to the record, Marlon is fascinated by the sound of the trumpet player with whom he readily identifies. Night passes, time flies... In the morning, he wakes up in a New York alley during the 1960s. There, he meets his idol and realizes his ultimate dream, that of playing with Falcon at Greenwich Village's Brilliant Corners, a mythical jazz club.
By allowing Marlon to time travel, the author enables us to penetrate to the heart of the music and conveys to us his passion for jazz and, above all, his admiration for musicians. His style is lively and rhythmic, and it serves the story well. Stanley Péan paints a touching and powerful portrait of the world of jazz. The themes he deals with are sometimes difficult but are always fairly presented. This novel is an inspiration to young adolescents who are ready to discover other types of music.
PARIS: SEUIL JEUNESSE, 1998, 238 P.
This is a story about a little girl who, like a multitude of other children, has lots of questions. After brushing her teeth and kissing her parents goodnight, the little girl in this story finds herself unable to sleep. Thousands of questions flood her mind -- questions about the world, herself, her future, and questions, too, about life and its circumstances -- thoughts and questions like those of countless little girls.
Here is a little girl looking both outside and inside herself. Her new sense of the life within her comes up against the world. Outside, a stormy night reflects the turbulence of her thoughts -- thoughts like so many other girls, so many other children, so many of us all.
Nuit d'orage is truly a children's book in the sense that it speaks to our inner child: the ever-present child who faces simple truths and asks the big questions before they become realities.
Nuit d'orage combines the frankness of the questions with simple black and white illustrations. The presentation is sparse, which emphasizes the contrast with the weighty questions asked in this book. Nuit d'orage asks questions relentlessly, but offers no answers, except to tell us that life is insatiable. In the face of all the mysteries and uncertainties of existence, the only response is that of the little girl, who only stops asking questions long enough to state "I'm hungry."
LA GRANDE AVENTURE D'UN PETIT MOUTON NOIR
This story tells of the adventures of a little black sheep who is different from the others. Not only is his coat black, but his head is filled with travels, and a taste for faraway lands and other horizons. During one of his walks, he topples off the edge of a cliff and falls into the sea. There, in the eddies of the water, our black sheep meets a bored white whale. From that moment, they become inseparable, like two peas in a pod. The whale invites the sheep to get to know the vastness and diversity of her world; in return, the sheep gives the whale the comfort of his friendship. One day, after being separated for a short time, each discovers that they have become much more than just friends - what binds them now is love. "They say the black sheep and the white whale are still spinning… They are spinning love's sweet dream. Body in the water, head in the clouds."
The gentle poetry exuding from Marie-Danielle Croteau's text is equalled only by the beauty of Geneviève Côté's illustrations. It is a delight to read these gentle and evocative phrases, which in many cases are incorporated into the illustrations. The dream-like atmosphere of the story is enhanced by the illustrations, which, ranging from the extremely simple to the cartoonish, are always clear and distinct, in the drawing style as well as in the colour choices.
LE DÉLIRE DE SOMERSET
For his birthday, Somerset receives Schleimacher's story of the tales of the unfortunate Princess Isadora. At the end of this book, which is really only the first volume of the adventures of the Princess Isadora, the princess is lost in the forest and left dangling from a tree branch overhanging a precipice, while at the mercy of ogres or who knows what. Somerset is deeply moved by her plight; he can't leave the princess like that. His overactive imagination transforms the library clerk into the Great Guardian of the Library. The administrative requirements that every library-card holder must adhere to create challenges and obstacles that prevent Somerset from reaching the unfortunate little princess. When Somerset finally does get his hands on the second volume, he is bitterly disappointed and closes the book in disgust. After facing so many challenges and overcoming so many obstacles to get the book, the princess is effortlessly rescued by a prince who just happens to be passing by and who plucks her from the tree. "To think I did all that for nothing," says Somerset. "Well you can keep your princess!"
A short story that those of all ages will enjoy. The lively narrative is funny and the dialogue imaginative. Yayo's illustrations, numerous considering the small amount of available space, will captivate the reader with their sparkling colours and their playfully surreal quality. The images effectively and solidly support the development of the story, contributing to the delightful balance of the whole book.