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Christiane Duchesne
Illustrated by Marc Mongeau Montréal, La courte échelle, 1991. 64p paper, $7.95
ISBN 2-89021-161-4. CIP

Grades 2 and up / Ages 7 and up (francophone)
Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up (French Immersion)

Reviewed by Doris Lemoine

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Christophe Thomas may have a remarkable imagination but Christiane Duchesne is certainly not far behind. Who else could have come up with Les tordus débarment!? "What are "tordus?' is the first question that comes to mind as we pick up this book. "Tordus" are little persons, five of them to be exact, Alfred, Casmir, Gontran, Zenon and Apolline, all of them three centimeters high at the most, and all guaranteed to be full of fun and "joie de vivre." Blond and blue-eyed Christophe Thomas, who has invented them, has agreed to let them share his room on one condition ... that they be quiet and obedient to their "chef" (none other than Christophe Thomas himself). As it turns out, "tordus" can be very helpful live-in maids during the day and even good company on rainy days and holidays but they remain pranksters at heart and can get Christophe Thomas in trouble occasionally.

Les tordus débarquent! is Christiane Duchesne's first novel in the series "Premier roman" at La courte échelle, but Duchesne is certainly not a newcomer to the world of children's literature. Since 1975 she has published ten picture-books and four novels, one of which won her the Governor General's award in 1990 (La vraie histoire do chien de Clara Vic (Editions Quebec/ Amerique, 1990)). Noted for the quality of her writing, her vivid imagination and her sparkling sense of humour, Christiane Duchesne weaves a magical web. Once entangled in it, both children and adults will wish for more. As Christophe Thomas relates his many experiences with the "tordus," one can almost catch the gleam in Duchesne's eye. Yet her respect for children and their imaginary worlds filters through all her writings.

For many young readers attempting the transition from picture-book to novel, the large print of this novel and others in the series will certainly make it less frightful. The short chapters make it easier for reluctant readers, as each episode is self-contained and can be read at one's own pace.

Recommended for adults who can still remember their imaginary playmates from childhood and all young readers who may have a few "tordus" hidden in their desks.

Doris Lemoine, Direction des ressources éducatives fransaises, Bureau de l' éducationfransaise, Winnipeg, Man.
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