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Roch Carrier
Illustrated by Gilles Pelletier
Montreal, Tundra Books, 1991. 24pp, cloth, $14.95
ISBN 0-88776-267-0. Also available in French as Une bonne et heureuse annee. CIP

Grades 1 to 5/Ages 6 to 10

Reviewed by Patricia L.M. Butler

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

As in The Hockey Sweater Roch Carrier has set this autobiographical story in his village of Sainte-Justine, Que. The New Year's Day he writes of is in 1941, when he was four years old - the first one he can remember and therefore "the beginning of my world." On the first page Carrier skillfully sets the mid-war scene and its remoteness from his rural way of life. The newspa­pers carried pictures of men at war but "how did I discover that their guns were not for bear or moose?"

With his protected world thus outlined. Carrier uses colourful, descrip­tive word paintings to tell the story of a small boy's excitement at Christmas. However, even the gift of a bright red train can't dispel the anticipation of the joyous New Year's Day and its bringing together of family and friends for gifts, feasts and dancing in a celebration of hope for the New Year. The cherry wine that little Roch helped his grandmother prepare in August contributes greatly to the festivities although, like so many other things in his life, the little boy is not sure why.

The "folk-art" style of Pelletier's full-page illustrations brightly brings to life the text and, in bold detail, evokes the world that Carrier has created with words. Each page of the text begins with a further thumb-nail sketch to add to the story. These pictures are a delight in themselves.

For A Happy New Year's Day, both Carrier and Pelletier were deservingly nominated for the 1991 Governor General's literary awards. Their combined talents have created a story full of wonder, hope, joy and promise that should be felt by all each New Year's Day.

Patricia L.M. Butler, Scarborough, Ont.
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