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Bertrand Gauthier
Illustrated by Daniel Sylvestre
Montreal, La courte echelle, 1991. 24pp, paper, $7.95
ISBN 2-89021-153-3. (Zunik #8). C1P


Bertrand Gauthier
Illustrated by Daniel Sylvestre
Montreal, La courte echelle, 1991. 24pp, paper, $7.95
ISBN 2-89021-152-5. (Zunik #7). CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 3/Ages 5 to 8

Reviewed by Judy Coulman

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Zunik, in this series of adventures created by Bertrand Gauthier and illustrated by Daniel Sylvestre, provides for the young French Immersion student a delightful friend. The text is limited in vocabulary and yet the story moves fluently through conflict and climax to a satisfactory denouement. Although this series was undoubtedly created for very young pro-school francophone children, the books provide resources in many facets of second language acquisition within both the educational and the public library milieu:

De plus en plus vite ca tourne
... ca tourne ... ca tourne...

Zunik, "a la maternelle" performs in his first "spectacle." As Zunik, "l'abeille," moves toward his friend, Marlene, "le tournesol," his flying - and turning - get out of control with the inevitable crash to the floor of the stage. All children can identify with the inherent embarrassment of this calam­ity, especially in front of an audience of parents and friends: "Et a cause de moi, notre beau spectacle va etre rate"

Bertrand Gauthier has developed a father figure of admirable proportions for Zunik: gentle, sensitive, wise and the single parent responsible for Zunik. He sends Zunik a supportive wink and joins the audience to sing "le chanson de Zunik, 1'abeille."

Je 1'aime done, mon pere,
quand il me fait des beaux
clins d'oeil

The text created by Gauthier is up to date and appropriate for today's families and classrooms. Children and teachers are represented with multicul­tural origins. Various ages of care givers are also shown. The illustrations by Daniel Sylvestre heighten the attraction of these books for all ages. Children are intrigued, especially by the comic book approach to the narrative with some voice bubbles used for dialogue. The vivid colours and stylistic representation of the characters further attract and sustain interest.

During the sequence in Zunik dans le dragon when Zunik enters into the story at the bibliotheque, Sylvestre varies his style so that the dragon occupies a complete two-page spread and the group "dans la bibliotheque" sits in the sand at the lower corner of one page, near the enormous crying dinosaur. Zunik suggests that the dragon is crying because " il n'a pas de wawazonzon pour jouer avec lui." Ariane mocks Zunik, telling him he thinks like a baby! Again, his father relieves his anguish by agreeing that there are WAWAZONZONS but...

Je pense qu'on est les
deux seuls chanceux a avoir
deja vu des wawazonzons...

The fantasy and creativity of the author-illustrator team are balanced by their sensitivity to real-life issues. Zunik and his adventures touch the child within us all. Bienvenue a Zunik. Encore ... s'il vous plait!

Judy Coulman, Guelph, Ont.
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