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Noteworthy Books with Canadian Historical Themes
Cover reproduced by permission of Coïncidence Jeunesse.
It is 1689. Thomas and his father Joseph Potier are travelling down the Ottawa River toward Montreal to trade in furs. When an Algonquin ambush separates the two travellers, Thomas is taken to an Iroquois village and his father is left for dead. In this brief account, Susanne Julien captures all the anguish of being a prisoner among a people with unfamiliar customs. In its portrayal of a young boy's adaptation to his fate and in the route it takes to a final unexpected outcome, this novel will please avid readers of both history and suspense.
Cover reproduced by permission of Les éditions les 400 coups.
Rose Latulipe, a lively 16-year-old, begs her father to celebrate Mardi Gras by inviting all the neighbours to a dance which, she promises, will end at midnight, before Ash Wednesday begins. Rose neglects her fiancé Gabriel for the entire evening, and even more so after the 11 o'clock arrival of an elegant stranger dressed entirely in black who leads the vivacious young woman away in a diabolical dance. The customs and superstitions of a time not so long ago come to life again in this legend illustrated with watercolours by Stéphane Jorisch that draw the reader into a frenetic pas de deux.
Cover reproduced courtesy of Annick Press 1994, Annick Press Ltd./Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak (text), Vladyana Krykorka (art).
Arvaarluk and his friends are astonished to see Rocky Parsons, a pilot who -- imagine! -- does not speak a word of Inuktitut, unload six trees from his plane in the snow desert known as Repulse Bay in 1955. What better to do with these trees, but turn them into baseball bats? The warm characters in this story evoke the pleasure of carefree northern life, thanks in part to the illustrations that depict humans and landscape in perfect harmony.
Cover reproduced by permission of Les Éditions du Boréal.
The threat of a labour dispute -- the ever-present companion of many Canadian workers -- comes alive in this story which addresses the concerns of an evolving Quebec culture. In 1946, several young people unite inconspicuously to protect one of their fathers, M. Hébert, who is fired when he persists in speaking French, even to his English bosses. When Richard Lacoste, the narrator and central character, discovers an English ancestor, the tension increases. By focusing on the opposition of two diverse cultures grappling with an inalterable past and an uncertain destiny, the author involves his readers, in timely fashion, in a page out of Canada's recent past.
Cover reproduced by permission of Livres Toundra.
The comforts of home become even more essential to Canadians' well-being when a thick coat of snow covers the ground. In this book, Gilles Pelletier's full-page illustrations communicate the joy of a New Year's Day in the 1940s, when New Year's Day was celebrated by the whole family around a table overflowing with good things to eat, listed here with obvious pleasure. The text, by Roch Carrier, evokes the warm atmosphere and joie de vivre of a family celebration as seen through the eyes of a four-year-old in this nostalgic, but authentic glimpse of the past.