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Dominique Demers
Illustrated by Philippe Beha
Montreal, La courte echelle, 1991. 64pp, paper, $7.95
ISBN 2-89021-164-9. CIP

Grades 3 to 5/Ages 8 to 10

Reviewed by Doris Lemoine.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Remember your first heart-throbbing crush? You certainly have not forgotten that boy or girl in Primary who sud­denly made you aware of feelings until then unknown! Alexis is an eight-year-old boy whose admiration for girls, in general, is nil. Until that one day, when a comet lands in his classroom - Katarina, that is, a beautiful Spanish girl with long, silky, wavy black hair and a smile that sets his heart tingling. Alexis' world will never be the same!

At about the same time, Ghislaine Brisebois, Alexis' teacher, also referred to as "Macaroni," is making plans for Valentine's Day. She has asked each student to choose his or her valentine. Children whose names coincide will spend the entire day together, partici­pating in different organized activities. Alexis' choice is quickly determined. But, the dilemma is, who will be Katarina's choice? Wishing to influence her, Alexis takes matters into his own hands and plans Operation Batman, followed by Operation Hamburger, both quite unsuccessful. His luck does turn when Katarina contracts the measles and is forced to stay home, and eventu­ally becomes his "Valentine picotee."

Dominique Demers, well-known literary critique (Chatelaine, Actualite and Le Devoir), has also published La bibliotheque des enfants (Editions le jour, 1990), an anthology of her favourite children's books. Valentine picotee, her first novel for children, is a light, humorous story that deals with real human emotions - love, friendship, hate and jealousy. The topic is treated with sensitivity but in an amusing manner.

Herself a mother of three children, Demers has live models to observe. Her characters, Alexis, Katarina, Henri and Marie Cleo, are realistically described, and children should be able to relate to Alexis' experience. Some words may be unfamiliar to Immersion students ("chipie," "nouille," "nounoune," "zozos") and may need some explana­tion. Philippe Doha's illustrations are, as always, full of humour and action and should not fail to delight readers.

Doris Lemoine, Direction des resources educatives francaises. Bureau de l'Education francaise, Winnipeg, Man.
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