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Robert McConnell
Illustrated by James Watling; translated by Marie-Andree Wamant-Cote

Toronto, Napoleon Publishing, 1990. 48pp, paper, $19.95, ISBN 0-929141-05-9.
Distributed by Diffusion du Livre Mirabel, 8925 Boul. St. Laurent, Mon­treal, Que. H2N1M5.
Available in English as Nip and Tuck (reviewed vol. XIX/2 March 1991, p. 100). CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 3/Ages 5 to 8
Reviewed by Judy Coulman

Volume 20 Number 1
1992 January

Emonde et Scie will be a valued addition to "une bibliotheque." Often we lack books combining fiction and science. McConnell's text gently moves through an age-old theme... coming of age. Children will identify with Emonde and Scie when their parents (des castors) refuse to allow their assistance building the beaver dam: "Non! Vous etes trop jeunes encore. Allez! Et jouez done!" When maman et papa go to visit "Oncle Jean," a storm develops and the dam breaks, putting in jeopardy all the nests and young of the other woodland creatures. Naturally, "le hibou" mocks the youngsters when they assert themselves: "Nous sauverons le barrage."

Bah! rait la le hibou,
Vous etes sans experience.
Pour boucher un tel trou,
Vous n'avez aucune chance!

Le hibou is also the first to admit his mistake when M & Mme Castor return to find:

II y avait un trou,
Et qui fa repare
Est un expert...

The poetry style and limited text together aid comprehension. In fact, though, this book will probably be presented to children, and their facility with the language will be encouraged through group discussion.

The illustrations by James Watling assist the fluency and comprehension of the child. His portrayal of the animals' emotions and his gentle water-colour forest scenery are both excellent. At times, though, I felt uneasy, because the body conformation, especially of the beaver family, was irregular. This is especially pronounced in the dream sequence at the end of the book. (Some children wondered why a puppy got into the image.) He does also anthropomor­phize the creatures. My students and I enjoyed this aspect, especially the tiny details: the kingfisher sports a matching blue bath towel, and Mrs. Goldfinch carries her worms home in a shopping basket!

Possibly we'll hear more about Emonde et Scie and their further adven­tures ... j'espere que oui!

Judy Coulman, Guelph, Ont.
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