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Volume VIII Number 12 . . . . February 15, 2002
Naomi and Mrs. Lumbago, the English translation of Giles Tibo's first novel, Le Secret de Madame Lumbago, which won the Prix litteraire du Gouvernor general in 1996, is a real reading treat. Naomi lives downstairs from Mr. and Mrs. Lumbago, an elderly couple who look after her since Naomi's parents are "... up to their eyeballs in work." Naomi and Mrs. Lumbago have an exuberant relationship. Every day is filled with fun and adventure, adventure that is heightened by the frequent comment of Mr. Lumbago, a war veteran, that there is treasure hidden in their apartment. Naomi is determined to find this treasure and spends much time looking and dreaming and even researching treasure hunters at the local library. In the middle of Naomi's search, Mr. Lumbago, who has not been well since he returned from the war, dies. The hunt is put on hold while Naomi and Mrs. Lumbago mourn their loss, but, as life goes on, the treasure hunt game soon resumes. As before, it involves Naomi's helping Mrs. Lumbago with her reading and writing, but the hunt and Naomi have a new ferocity. Naomi is more determined than ever to find the treasure, a situation which leads her to more than one discovery in her search.
From the opening pages, the reader is actively engaged in this story which is told in the first person. The characters are fresh, energetic and realistic, traits similar to those found in Tibo's beloved Simon from Tibo's award winning picture book series. The relationship between young and old is treated with wonderful sensitivity but is never patronizing or stereotypical. The loss of Mr. Lumbago is poignantly treated. Young readers will also feel the slowing down of the story for this mourning period and will be able to understand Naomi's simple but heartfelt feelings over this loss. Readers will also be captivated by Naomi's compulsive attention to finding the hidden treasure. The ending is more than the readers will have anticipated. Naomi and Mrs. Lumbago is not a story to read if you do not have the time to finish it immediately.
Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher living in Old Perlican, NF.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.