THE BOXING CHAMPION
Roch Carrier. Illustrated by Sheldon Cohen. Translated by Sheila Fischman.
Volume 19 Number 4
Roch Carrier's humorously self-deprecating story, whose wit, lilt and cadence Sheila Fischman has managed to maintain, blends wonderfully with Cohen's riotously colourful, delightfully detailed illustrations to produce a sure winner.
In The Boxing Champion, Roch Carrier returns to his childhood village of Sainte Justine to continue the story of his athletic adventures. This time, it is spring. The ice rink is nothing but a big puddle, so the hockey players regretfully hang up their hockey sweaters (Roch's disguised Toronto Maple Leaf sweater from his wonderful previous book, The Hockey Sweater ¹) and engage in the spring sport of boxing in the summer kitchen of the large Côté family.
Roch is not a successful boxer, always ending flat on his back with a bleeding nose, the result of a match which lasts, as he recounts, "as long as a single punch. It wasn't me who administered it." Deep down, though, Roch knows he is a champion. He sends away for a mail order body-building kit, which he diligently and secretly uses until the following spring, when he is ready again to challenge the youngest Côté brother, with definitely mixed results.
Every illustration tracking Roch's comical story is jam packed with nostalgic details from small-town life in the 1940s. Perhaps the one criticism in this otherwise completely delightful book is that towards the end one feels there has been a major illustration omitted. The text describes the final conflict between Roch and the Côté brother, and we are left with an illustration of Roch still in his bedroom working out. Perhaps the illustration was cut in the final production?
Otherwise, this is a very fine book, which will be read and re-read many times while we await the next one in the series.
Norma Charles, Van Horne Elementary School, Vancouver, BC.
¹ Reviewed vol. XIII/2 March 1985, p.84.
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