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Les "Ados,"

By Philip K. Harber

Volume 15 Number 2

Young adult literature is conveniently divisible into three categories: books by, for, and about young people. Some of the most celebrated ones, like Robinson Crusoe, fall outside these categories. (Michel Tournier, however, had to adapt his Crusoe. Vendredi où les limbes du Pacifique,l to the taste of young people). Others miss their mark because they try to convey the tone and content of the author's own remembered favourite reading as a young person. Many of us have recommended to young people what we ourselves enjoyed reading, and the same is true in French: the Comtesse de Segur's stories2 are still in publishers' backlists, with the Becassine comic books and Benjamin Rabier's fables.4

Books written by young people are the rarest: two examples from Quebec are Fadette's diaries5 and Chantal Cadieux's Longueur d'ondes.6 The former is a priceless social document but rather too sentimental for today's taste; the latter is full of the current slang and moral questions that interest the youth of Quebec and Canada, but may not stand the test of time.

Books written ostensibly for, but really about, young people, like Richard Jeffries' Bevis, a boy, or Jules Renard's Poil de carotte,7 are still being reprinted, for a readership of adults & nostalgic librarians and teachers?). The classic Le Grand Meaulnes, by Alain Fournier, is harder to categorize, because it is a fascinating account of a French rural school as well as a love story and a mystery.

Well-known books admittedly for adults about young people are, for example, Louis Pergaud's La guerre des boutons9 or Herve Bazin's Vipere au poing. 10 J.M .G . Le Clezio's Lullaby11 is an excellent example of a novel about an episode (a "fugue") in adolescence. In Quebec, Jacques Savoie's recent novel Les Fortes tournantes12 though narrated by a rather precocious child, tells us more about his parents and the author's view of modern life than about growing up in Quebec City.

Historically, the examples given above illustrate change in attitudes towards children and their books that parallels those in painting and life: children are not little adults but people in their own right, with special tastes and interests. This brings us to the question of whether to pander to adolescents' tastes and peer pressure or whether to try to lead them in the "right" direction, i.e., away from the translations of Enid Blyton and Caroline Quine (French for Keene), away from the Harlequins and Sweet Dreams (Hachette Jeunesse) available in French towards "better" writings by talented authors writing in their native language. Such writers do exist, but the market-place favours the best seller in translation, in its bright paper cover It is the librarian's task to seek out book bait ("amorce," in French) among the current production of France and French Canada, and to sell the best to adolescent readers in spite of their reluctance to experiment and their resistance to picking up anything as long as one hundred pages or more.

The mass market today provides the full range of horror story and gothic romance (Hachette's Spectres series, for example), science fiction for all ages, copies or "calques" of British and American best sellers like the teen romances (e.g., Coeur-a-coeur from Heritage) and "make your own adventure" (Gallimard), as well as junior and adult detective stories. A judicious selection of these may lead some readers to accept the librarian's choice in due course. Some of my own suggestions follow this article.


ALAIN-FOURNIER. Le grand Meaulnes. Paris, Gallimard, 1976. (Mille soleils)

ANOUILH Jean. Becket, on I'honneur de Dieu. Paris, Gallimard, 1972 (Folio)

AUBRY Claude. Le chien transparent. Montreal Universite Libre, 1982

AYME, Marcel. Le passe-muraille. Paris, Gallimard, 1972. (Mille soleils)

BAROKAS, Bernard. Mystere dans la vallee des Rois. Paris, eds. de l'Amitie-G.T. Rageot, 1983.

BAUDOUY, Michel-Aime. Le garcon du bord de l'eau. Gembloux, Belgique Duculot, 1979. (Travelling)

BAZIN. Herve. Vipereau poing. Paris, Livre de Poche,1972.

BEAUCHEMIN, Yves. Le matou. Montreal, Quebec-Amerique,1981.

BEN AYCH, Gil. Le voyage de Meme. Paris, Bordas (Aux quatre coins du temps)

BOISSARD. Janine. L 'esprit de famille 6v. Paris, Livre de Poche, 1979

BOSCO, Henri . Le renarcd dans I l'ile. Paris, Gallimard,1974. (Mille soleils)

BOUCHER, Claudette. Jamais plus les chevaux. Montreal, Fides,1981. (Intermondes)

BOULIZON, Guy. La chaise a Sebastien. Montreal, Fides,1982. (Intermondes)

BRISOU-PELLEN, Evelyne. L'etrange chanson de Sveti. Paris, Flammarion, 1985. (Castor poche)

CARRIER, Roch. Ne Jaites pas mal aI'avenir. Montreal, Paulines, 1984. (Jeunesse-Pop)

CERVON, Jacqueline. Le dernier mirage. Gembloux. Belgique, Duculot, 1981. (Travelling)

CHEDID, Andree. L'autre. Paris, Flammarion,1981. (Castor poche)

CIRAVEGNA, Nicole. Les trois jours du cavalier. Paris, Seuil, 1981. (Points-Roman)

CLAVEL, Bernard . Le seigneur du fleuve. Paris, J 'ai lu,1975.

COLETTE. Le ble en herbe. Paris, Flammarion/Chat perche, 1982. Paris, J'ai lu,1968.

CORRIVEAU, Monique. Le wapiti. Montreal, Fides, Coll. du Goeland,1980.

COTE, Denis. Les paralleles celestes. Lasalle, Quebec, Hurtubise HMH, 1983. (Jeunesse)

DAVELUY, Paule . Pas encore seize ans. Montreal, Paulines,1982. (Lectures-VIP)

DHOTEL, Andre . Le pays où I 'on narrive jamais. Paris, J 'ai lu,1960.

GORON, Joelle . T 'as tout pour etre heureuse. Paris, L'é des loisirs, 1985.

JASMIN, Claude. Des cons qui s'adorent . Montreal, Lemeac,1986.

KESSEL, Joseph. Le lion. Paris, Gallimard,1976. (Folio)

LEBLANC, Louise.37 1/2 AA. Montreal, Quinze,1983.

LEOURIER, Christian . Le Gwemen sacre. Paris, Hachette, 1 979. (Eclipse)

LEROY, Eugene. Jacquou le croquant. Paris, Livre de Poche,1971.

LEGEART, Brigitte. Fugue d 'ete. Paris, L'é des loisirs, 1985.

MAILLET, Antonine. Crache-a-pic. Montreal, Lemeac,1984.

MARTEL, Suzanne. Menfou Carcajou. 2v.Montreal, Fides,1980.

MAUPASSANT. Guy de . Le horla. Paris, Livre de Poche,1979.

MORGENSTERN, Suzie . La sixieme. Paris, L'é des loisirs, 1984.

PERGAUD, Louis . La guerre des boutons. Paris, Gallimard,1972. (Mille soleils)

POULIN, Jacques. Lesgrandes marees. Montreal, Lemeac,1986.

RENARD, Jules. Poil de carotte. Paris, Flammarion/Chat perche, 1982 (1983).

ROY, Gabrielle . Bonheur d' occasion. Montreal, Stanke,1978. (10/10)

ROSNY Aine, J .H. La guerre du feu. Paris Gallimard,1977. (Folio)

SAVOIE, Jacques. Les portes tournantes. Montreal, Boreal lixpress. 1984.

SOLET, Bertrand. Les cahiers de Bantistin Etienne. Paris, Livre de Poche jeunesse,1980.

SOULIERES, Robert. Le visiteur du soir. Montreal, Pierre Tisseyre,1980. (Conquetes)

THERIAULT, Yves . Agaguk. Montreal, Quinze,1981. (10/10)

TOURNIER, Michel. Vendredi où la vie sauvage. Paris, Flammarion/ Chat perche, 1981.

TREMBLAY, Michel. La grosse femme d'a cote est enceinte. Montreal, Lemeac, 1986 (1978).

VERCORS. Le silence de la mer. Paris, Livre de Poche,1953.

VERY, Pierre. L'assassinat du Pere Noel. Paris, Gallimard, 1981. (Folio Enigmes)

WARNANT-COTE, Marie-Andree. La cavernale. Montreal, Pierre Tisseyre, 1983. (Conquetes)


I . Michel Tournier, Vendredi où la vie sauvage, Paris, Gallimard, 1977. (Folio junior)
2. Comtesse de Segur, Les deux nigauds, Paris, Gallimard,1978. (Folio junior)
3. Leon Caumery, Becassine voyage, Paris, Gautier Languereau,1978. (Albums Becassine)
4. Bejamin Rabier, Gedeon. . ., Paris, Garnier,1978. (Albums en facsimile)
5. Fadette (Henriette Dessaulles), Journal 1874-1880, Montreal, llurtubise HMH, 1971.
6 Chantal Cadieux, Longueur d 'ondes, Montreal, Fides,1985.
7. See bibliography infra.
8. See bibliography infra.
9. See bibliography infra.
10. See bibliography infra.
11. J.M.G. Le Clezio, Lullaby, Paris, Gallimard,1980. (Folio junior)
12. Jacques Savoie, Les portes tournantes, Montreal, Boreal Express, 1985.

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