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Aubin, Michel.

Illustrations by Helene Desputeaux. Adapted by Shelley Tanaka. Toronto, James Lorimer, 1987. 23pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 1-55028-027-9. CIP Aubin, Michel.


Aubin, Michel.

Illustrated by Helene Desputeaux. Adapted by Shelley Tanaka. Toronto, James Lorimer, 1987. 23pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 1-55028-029-5. CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 2
Reviewed by Joan Weller

Volume 16 Number 3
1988 May

Translated, or as the book's cover states, "Adapted" from the French by Shelley Tanaka, these two picture-books reflect the influence of such outstanding Quebec author-illustrators as Ginette Anfousse and Marie-Louise Gay. Illustrator Desputeaux's work is not without some charm in its bright colours and detailed pictures. However, her illustrations are stiff and lifeless. Her characters' faces resemble the expressionless children created by Joan Walsh Anglund. Although she attempts to portray brisk action through detailed pictures, her characters appear to be taking stances rather than genuinely participating in the events.

Despite some large double-page spreads and lots of colour, the results are lifeless and unnatural. These first-person narratives involve Madeleine, who appears to be in kindergarten or grade 1. In The Secret Code she and her churns invent a code and try it out at home and in the street. Finally, its success is measured at school when it defeats George, their teacher. In The Birthday Party

Madeleine moves from dreaming of a fantastic party involving hundreds of people to the reality of a quiet party with her family only to be surprised at the book's conclusion by an unexpected party. A question arises. The opening pages find the little girl at her dad's place. Are the parents separated or divorced? It's unclear but mum suddenly appears at the book's conclusion. This may be a fault of translation, but it does present an awkwardness that sharp children will spot and question. With their flimsy paperback format, these books have little appeal to discerning readers of picture-books.

Having more French picture-books translated and made available to English readers is commendable, but the books selected must be worthy of this important work.

Joan Weller, Ottawa Public Library, Ottawa, Ont.
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