UNE HISTOIRE A FAIRE JAPPER
Reviewed by Nancy Senior
Reviewed by Nancy Senior
Volume 20 Number 3
The story seems ordinary enough at first when Guillaume acquires a puppy he names Pantoufle. However, it turns out that Pantoufle is no ordinary dog. She is remarkably intelligent, and soon learns not only to draw geometric figures in the sand but also to communicate her ideas to people by writing French. When word of her extraordinary intelligence gets out, the family is besieged by curiosity seekers as well as by a German scientist, who is not only obnoxious but also remarkably stupid.
Guillaume's parents, actors by profession, sign a contract to make a series of films, and the family goes to South Carolina for the shooting of the first one. (Young readers should enjoy learning how certain movie scenes are made.) In an incident that is exciting without being too scary, Pantoufle, Guillaume and his friend Renaud are kidnapped, and the three carry off an ingenious escape plan. In the end Pantoufle finds a way to escape the pressures of fame as well.
This novel by Yves Beauchemin, best known for his adult novel Le matou (Quebec/ Amerique, 1981), is for children who read. Unlike some Quebecois novels for young people, it has moderate (i.e., not huge) print and is fairly long. The style is straightforward and clear but not artificially simple.
One of the best features of the book is the portrayal of Guillaume's family, which is warm and loving without being impossibly perfect. His friendship with his classmate Renaud is also well drawn, as are the numerous entertaining secondary characters. There are a few small points on the minus side: the anti-science bias is perhaps a bit exaggerated, and some occasional English phrases arc rather unlikely, as in the question an old gentleman in South Carolina asks the script girl: "What by the devil happened to you, my poor girl?"
Une histoire a faire japer is a worthwhile addition to any library and would be a good choice for reading aloud, either by a parent to a child or by a teacher to a class.
Nancy Senior, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Sask.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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