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French Titles About Multiculturalism
The victim of a conspiracy, Sutifer, a doctorís son, has been made a slave. When his father dies, Sutifer returns home to find that the temple priests have just taken his only remaining family, his sister, away as a slave. Sutifer is captured but, hoping to find his sister, he manages to escape along with one of his friends. After being caught a second time, he overhears soldiers plotting against Alexander, the new pharaoh. A friend helps free him, and Sutifer is able to meet with the pharaoh. Sutiferís ability to speak Greek makes him indispensable to Alexander.
Magda Tadros leads us through the conquests of Alexander the Great. She describes the relationship between slave and pharaoh: at first the two seem incompatible, but in the end their relationship takes a positive turn. Magda Tadros shows us that regardless of class or race, we can live together and even become friends. This exciting story of human relationships is captivating to the end.
After fleeing Haiti, Alexis and his mother, Janine, find themselves in the Miami neighbourhood of Little Haiti. They have endured a long and dangerous trip by sea to Florida, followed by a 10-month stay in a refugee camp in Key West. To make things worse, Alexisís father was arrested by the military before their departure, and now Alexis dreams of nothing but freeing him.
One day, Alexis and his mother receive a letter from Uncle Étienne, in Montréal, who invites them to join him in CanadaÖ the promised land. Will they like Canada, this strange, snow-covered land?
Overcoming the language barrier - French is spoken with an accent different from his - Alexis begins to warm to the people in his adopted country. He also starts to like Montréal, although he finds it a bit quiet. With the help of friends from his new homeland, and after many petitions, an international media awareness campaign and the intervention of politicians, his father is finally released and can join them in Canada.
Marie-Célie Agnant describes the courage and determination of refugees forced into exile by the controversial and perilous political conditions in their own countries. This story makes us appreciate family life and the joy of living in a free country.
Vincent is a geologist who leaves to work for a Canadian mining company in the remote part of Burkina Faso. It is his first trip to Africa. Vincentís assistant, Alidou, who always accompanies him during his work, teaches him about the way of life and the customs of this part of Africa.
A mystery emerges: we discover that the African lawyer working on behalf of the Canadian company is actually a traitor.
The concept of multiculturalism plays a prominent role in this story, as Vincent learns to live at the African pace of life - even though he sometimes finds it frustrating. The dialogue is humorous and makes us dream of Africa. Readers will be easily swept away as they discover various African traditions.
Léonie has just moved to a new neighbourhood where there are people from all over the world. Her new babysitter, Mamie Giroflée, has a funny accent. She is Creole and comes from a country where it is always hot.
Mamie Giroflée bundles Léonie up and sends her outside to play. Léonie has just started to make a snowman when she meets Kim, who is of Chinese descent, Nicolina, of Italian origin, and Raphaël, who is Haitian. She is surprised that they all speak French. Léonieís new friends help her finish the snowman. For the eyes, they use litchis, a favourite Chinese fruit; the mouth, nose and ears are made out of shells from Haiti; and multicoloured noodles are added as hair.
This humorous short story shows that we should not be afraid of our differences. It introduces readers to the physical and cultural characteristics of young children in allophone communities (communities in which neither English nor French is the main language) and treats ethnic differences with respect. The text is simple, and the sentences are easy to read. The colourful illustrations adorning each page enhance the text.
Francis has to go to Mexico for the summer holidays with his mother, stepfather and stepsister. He is going to see his family against his will, but his cousin is going to introduce him to the culture and neighbourhoods of Mexico. He immediately begins to warm to this new culture and falls in love with a young Mexican girl who lives in a shantytown. A young teenagerís daily trials and worries are brought to life for the reader.
The disturbing subject of trade in vital organs comes up at the end of the story - Francisís uncle, a doctor, makes his fortune in organ trading. Francis tries to smuggle the young Mexican girl into Canada by hiding her in the trunk of a car. He is unsuccessful, but he is able to sell a very old and valuable small Indian statue. Using the money, he goes back to Mexico to get the young girl, only to discover that she has died after selling her kidney in an effort to raise funds to leave the country.
This story is interesting on a multicultural level because it shows how friendships can develop in spite of ethnic differences. The tragic ending, however, touches on subjects that may be controversial for young readers.
Fatima is a 14-year-old Moroccan girl. When her father decides to leave the family home and embark on a cross-desert adventure, the entire family must end their life of stability and become nomads. Fatima finds the trip much more difficult than she imagined: Fatimaís mother is attacked and killed by a wildcat while Fatima is lost in the desert. Some very colourful, but not necessarily very nice, people she meets along the way offer the young girl their hospitality.
Cíest promis! InchíAllah! is an original story and allows readers to experience life in the desert. One of the prominent themes in the book is the painful disappointment of a teenís first love. The treatment of Fatimaís motherís death is surprisingly brief, perhaps because her death occurs while Fatima is lostÖ.
The novel introduces readers to the different ways of life of people in other countries and the rituals of a culture that is very different from North American culture.
This story begins when a "petit Noir et Blanc" decides to climb out of a pot of India ink to search for a rainbow. Our hero, an ink blot with two feet, discovers the outside world through the magic of the rainbowís colours. His voyage to the centre of the world of colour teaches him that there is beauty in difference and that a little black-and-white fellow is as beautiful as a rainbow, in his own way.
This bookís success is due in large part to Yayoís talent as an illustrator. The surrealist poetry of his illustrations brings the everyday to life. His light, airy style transcends reality, allowing us to see the world through the eyes of an innocent child. This is an original book whose subtle humour shows that it is still possible to dream.
Yayo was born in Columbia, and his real name is Diego Herrera. He lives in Montréal and has received numerous awards for his illustrations.
Aïxa, a young Creole girl, relates her daily life in a country where the sun always shines. She lives on the sea in a charming house with a courtyard. When not at school, she goes to the Parasol market with her grandmother or goes swimming with her mother and her friend Gigi. There are also get-togethers where friends and family dance and celebrate all evening long.
One day, the little family has to leave the country because the father does not share the opinions of the government leader. Aïxa is very sad. To console her, her father tells her that where they are going, children make snow castles instead of sand castles, which piques her curiosity. After a long plane trip, Aïxa wakes up under a snowy sky, lit up by thousands of Christmas trees, since the holiday is approaching.
The attractive and expressive colour illustrations will help children follow the story. There is an educational game at the end of the book.
Le Chien de Pavel is a touching story about the deportation of refugees. Pavel, a quiet refugee, rents a first-floor apartment in Montréal, where he lives with his dog, Tobie. Pavel is often the subject of conversation in the neighbourhood. One day while listening to the gossiping of her mother and neighbours, a little girl hears them say, "Son chien est mort" (His dog is dead) - a French-Canadian expression used to describe someone who has a lot of problems. This news is upsetting to the child because it reminds her of the death of her cat, Poupou Pidou. To comfort Pavel, she decides to make a drawing of her cat and brings it to him. She is surprised to hear Tobie barking!
It is not Tobie who has died, itís Pavelís dream. The immigrant dreamed of one day bringing his seven-year-old daughter and his family to Quebec. Unfortunately, Pavel has been deported.
This rather sad, yet sometimes funny, novel will appeal to readers of all ages. The black-and-white illustrations are charming. The story exposes the reader to the difficulties and harsh reality of being an immigrant.
Fred, a 12-year-old boy, experiences something unique when his parents adopt a young girl. Élodie is three and is of Creole descent. When she is adopted into a Caucasian family, all goes well for her. Manon and Gaston, Fredís parents, adore Élodie and shower her with attention. Being abandoned by her mother has made her insecure, but she thrives in her new environment, where she surrounded by love. Little Élodie has to deal with the jealousy her new mother feels towards her birth mother and the confusion created by her biological motherís visits.
Fred loves his little sister and plays with her but feels left out. In his diary, he writes about his frustration over all the attention Élodie gets and adds that she seems to be afraid of his outburst of anger. He wishes that she had never come! He feels guilty for not being the perfect big brother.
Fred faces a serious crisis when he has to leave for boarding school. After a long talk with his father, Fred understands himself better and ultimately comes to feel like Élodieís protective brother. Élodie also overcomes her fears and settles in completely with her new family.
This story illustrates the success of multiculturalism and includes several nice illustrations.
Marie-Ange and Jean-Michelís family is from Burundi. New to the city, Marie-Ange and Jean-Michel are having trouble fitting in. The children at the playground ignore them, make fun of them and refuse to play with them. They feel left out.
Since Marie-Ange hates confrontations, she confides in letters to her grandmother, whom she adores and who lives in Burundi. For his part, Jean-Michel expresses his anger by doing stupid things. He cannot accept being made fun of because he and his sister are black. To avoid problems, Marie-Ange and Jean-Michel go straight home every day. Their parents donít suspect anything.
One day, during an altercation, Marie-Ange and Jean-Michel meet Julie. After she sticks up for them, no one dares bother them again. They have found a new friend.
The author addresses the topic of racism in society, illustrating the problems and treatment immigrant children sometimes encounter. The colour illustrations by Lucie Crovatto complement the moving story, which encourages tolerance and acceptance of differences.
Fierritos can fly because he has butterfly wings on his head. During one of his "flights," he meets Réla, a strange young girl. Réla tells him that she has lost the key to the door in the air through which she can enter Cadikinn. Unless she returns, her tree, which holds her memories, will die and she will be forgotten forever. With the help of her friend Socrate, Fierritos carries Réla on his back to retrieve the key. Full of remorse, Réla finally admits that she never lost her key. She then returns home, aware of the price she will have to pay for her escapade. Very fond of Réla, Fierritos and Socrate use every trick possible to free her and take her back to their world. But has Réla really decided to leave her world?
Fierritos et la porte de líair is surprising in its fantasy. Science fiction enthusiasts will find the novel particularly appealing. Despite its fantastical nature, the author, from Uruguay, manages to incorporate universal themes into the story: helping others, friendship, love and, above all, the family as a comforting and safe refuge.
Julien and his pals are playing ball in an alley. When Julien goes to retrieve the ball that has landed in his Chinese neighbourís garden, Julien hears groaning through an open window. This is the start of one of our heroís strangest adventures - a mission he is given by a giant toad. Julien has to find Wan Peng, the only person who can cure the little girl who has been struck with Mekong fever. The address he is given is a restaurant, and he is told that no one by that name lives there.
At the toadís insistance, Julien keeps his spirits up. Will he and his family find a way to contact this mysterious person and bring him to the little girl?
Raymond Planteís story brings to light the reality faced by some immigrants. Full of twists and turns, the mysterious and humorous story will captivate readers. The lively illustrations by Jules Prudíhomme complement the text, which holds our interest to the very end.
Catherine is 14 years old and is of Chinese descent. One day, she receives a letter from Changsha telling her that her biological mother, Tsung Fei, does not have much longer to live. Tsung Fei has cancer. Catherine is distraught because she thought her mother was dead. At the age of six months, Catherine was adopted by a couple from Quebec, with the help of their friend Dr. Chang Shou, Catherineís godfather.
Anxious to meet her biological mother and visit her country of birth, she sets off with her godfather, a Chinese exile. Catherine has some very touching and emotional experiences with her mother and her ancestors.
Lettre de Chine is a captivating novel and is interesting from an historical point of view since it describes the Cultural Revolution in China, between 1965 and 1985.
Maïa is a little Egyptian girl, an avid learner and extremely curious. She thinks that her life is boring because of its daily routine and wants to change it. A sad event turns everything upside down for Maïa. Her curiosity keeps her going and helps her better understand lifeís subtleties. With the help of Doctor Malouf - not a real doctor but he is called that because he is a very wise old man - Maïa is finally able to quench her thirst for knowledge.
There is a glossary at the end of the book. Lovely illustrations by Daniela Zekina help readers better understand the story. Angèle Delaunois, who received a Governor Generalís Literary Award in 1998, transports us to a new and colourful world whose culture is little understood but worth discovering.
The Hoo family is moving into Fredís neighbourhood. When the moving van arrives, 10 people get out with chairs on their heads and go immediately into the house, where they remain all day.
Intrigued, Fred and his friend Gustave start making fun of this odd behaviour. Their banter even continues in Fredís class. When the school principal hears the racket, she asks the two jokers to find out just who these new neighbours are.
Through various tricks, Fred and Gustave eventually figure out the reason for their Chinese neighboursí strange manoeuvres: they are world-famous tight-rope walkers.
Each chapter includes several funny drawings, giving the novel a unique charm.
Marionís father has found work in Montréal, and the whole family has to leave their beloved Gaspé for the big city. Now Marion understands what it is like living in a multi-ethnic neighbourhood. Many of the children in her class are immigrants or the children of immigrants and have different customs, clothing and accents. She has to change her way of doing things and make new friends.
One day, Marion sees a little girl at the window of the apartment behind her. The little girl spends most of the time hidden behind closed drapes, which really intrigues Marion. Marion decides to investigate, eventually realizing that her fertile imagination has been playing tricks on her.
Colour illustrations accompany the story, which has a direct style and is enjoyable to read.
Zana hasnít been living in Canada for long. When she and her mother came to settle in this new country, Zana brought her doll with her. Now she carries it everywhere, especially to school. The other children make fun of her, and so Zana is always alone. One day, a young girl rips the doll out of her hands and starts calling it Pipi, because of the smell coming from the dollís dress. Zanaís mother had wanted to wash the doll, but Zana refused for fear she would forget the smell of her country of birth.
With no friends to talk to, Zana invents an imaginary friend, Dritan, in whom she confides. Her mother finds out about her little invisible friend and tries everything to convince Zana that Dritan does not exist. But Zana will not listen.
In a happy turn of events, Zana receives some news that changes her life.
Le Meilleur Ami du monde has universal appeal, since the story can be easily transposed to another countries at war. Beautiful and intelligently written, Laurent Chabinís carefully chosen words capture our attention and sustain our interest until the end.
Available in English under the title The Breadwinner (Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 2000)
Afghanistan is still under the rule of the harsh Taliban regime. Young Parvana's father can no longer teach; he was wounded when a bomb destroyed the school where he was teaching, and her mother, three sisters and baby brother are confined to a one-room apartment. Every day, 10-year-old Parvana accompanies her father to the market, where he sits in a corner trying to earn enough money to support his family by reading letters for those who cannot read. When Parvana's father is beaten up and jailed, the family is left with no means of survival.
Their only hope is with Parvana - she is young enough to dress as a boy (girls are not allowed to go out in public) and knows how to read and write, which will enable her take her father's place in the market. Each day is filled with new dangers. When Parvana's mother and sisters try to go north to Mazar-e-sharif for Parvana's older sister's wedding, they are rounded up by the Taliban. Alone in Kabul, Parvana will need all her courage to survive.
The Breadwinner has received international attention. The indomitable character and remarkable courage and determination of Parvana were inspired by personalities Deborah Ellis met while working in refugee camps in Pakistan.
Popaul is a little boy who is afraid of everything, even his shadow. He is afraid of being abandoned by his parents; he is afraid of animals and insects; and he is afraid of the dark. His parents are unable to reassure him. At school, the children are always playing tricks on him. Popaul is sad and feels he canít trust anyone. He is upset and cries often. Even the efforts of Dr. Lacroix are to no avail. Popaul refuses to explain whatís frightening him and remains silent.
Then Mamie Justine, Popaulís grandmother, comes to live with them. He knows her and is wary of her. She used to come visit at Christmas and always gave Popaul strange presents: talismans and magic objects to ward off bad luck. One night while his parents are out, Popaul is left with Mamie Justine. Magically, Mamie Justine is able to cure him of his fears.
Stanley Péan has a clean, simple style, and his story holds our attention to the very end. Stéphane Poulinís illustrations complement the story and make it easier to understand. Un petit garçon qui avait peur de tout et de rien is a lovely story to read to children.
A little girl named Kim used to live in Moscow, the capital of Russia. Her parents loved her very much and bought her all kinds of presentsÖ except what she really wanted, a porcelain doll with blue eyes and braids. But dolls were not in style in Communist Russia. Kimís mother thought that playing with dolls kept little girls from being brave and strong.
Little Kim wanted a doll so badly that she made one for herself with a soupspoon and a scarf. She played with her doll, Natasha, and told her stories. Her parents tried to dissuade her but, in spite of punishments, Kim continued to play with her homemade doll. For her fifth birthday, her parents finally gave her a real doll because Kim had shown how brave she was.
This first picture book written by Kim Yaroshevskaya - known as Fanfreluche, a legendary character who has appealed to the imagination of a generation of children in Quebec - is a real success. The text is concise, simple and interesting. It helps readers better understand life in Russia during Communist rule. The gouache illustrations cover two pages and reflect life in Russia. The pictures are drawn from a childís height and point of view.
Mathieu and Judith are happy to hear they will be having a houseguest for the summer. Their parents have offered to take in Oleg, a Ukrainian boy, who will be receiving care in Canada. By looking through several library books, Mathieu learns that a nuclear accident in the Ukraine has made thousands of people ill. Realizing that this trip to Canada will be a big move for Oleg, Mathieu decides to show him some fun.
When Oleg first arrives in Canada, he feels uncomfortable in his new adoptive country. This world is very different from his. He doesnít know the customs or what is considered acceptable behaviour - he eats the catís food and drinks from the neighbourís pool. Everyone wants to help him and welcomes him. The neighbourhood children shower him with gifts.
Mathieu also wants to surround Oleg with gifts because he wants Oleg to feel comfortable and well liked. But as he gets to know him better, he realizes that all the gifts in the world will not make him feel at home. Mathieu then decides to give Oleg the most valuable gift of all, friendship.
This is a nice story that touches on various multicultural themes, including culture shock, foreign customs, compassion, the difficulties of illness, as well as the importance of family and friends.
Anca and her family lived in Romania during the Ceaucescu dictatorship. They have fled to Canada and are doing their best to adapt to life here. Unable to work in their professions, Ancaís parents eke out a living working in jobs that are new to them.
Anca feels very lonely. At school, most of the children make fun of her and reject her. She has just one friend, Stéphanie. She is a very curious girl, and she knows that Anca is hiding something. Anca does, indeed, have a very big secret. But can she trust Stéphanie enough to tell her? It is a very difficult decision because she could lose her only friend. Will Anca confide in her? Will Stéphanie be able to listen to the entire secret?
Michel Lavoieís style draws us in, making us want to read Ancaís story all at once. We want to know what Anca is hiding. Will you be able to resist the temptation of skipping ahead to the ending to discover the mysterious secret?
Newly arrived in India, Abel experiences true culture shock when he finds himself in the midst of a dense and motley crowd. Now, he is the one who is different. He comes face-to face with the language barrier. His grandfather Léo, whom he has come to visit, does not help, gently teasing him about being so naive.
Abel is introduced to the climate and dietary habits of India when he leaves on an adventure with the giant Léo and his dog Mammouth. In a crowd gathered for the shooting of a film, Abel suddenly loses sight of Léo. Will he be able to find him again with the help of the young Swapnil, who wears a shirt bearing the Tigon tribe star, "the one who must take him where he wants to go"?
With humour and subtly, Sur la piste de líétoile introduces us to the way of life in India, taking us by the hand as we discover its differences. The illustrations, which are both very expressive and realistic, reflect the contagious fun and enthusiasm of these characters as they are swept away by adventure in a foreign land.
Available in English under the title Ghost Train (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1996)
Choon-yi had an exceptional talent for drawing. She lived in southern China a long time ago, with her parents who were affectionate but too poor to feed the family properly. Choon-yiís father had to emigrate to Canada to work building the railway through the mountains. One day, he asked Choon-yi to travel by boat to meet him and to bring along her drawing supplies. Upon arriving in North America, she learns that her father has just died. Shaken by the sad news, she dreams about her father. He tells her that her mission is to paint the locomotive and the train running along the tracks so as to capture the souls of his Chinese compatriots who died as they worked. In her dream, she learns about a ritual that will enable her to pass through the veil between life and the beyond. She is able to gather these wandering souls and bring them back to China to set them free in their homeland.
Inspired by Chinese-Canadian history, this story includes many pastel drawings in warm and sombre colours that sharply contrast with the story, adding depth. The first drawings depict the initial stages in the building of the transcontinental railway, while the latter ones recall the tremendous sacrifice of human lives that went into the completion of this ambitious economic development project.