MR. PATAPOUM'S FIRST TRIP
Gilles Tibo and Francois Vaillancourt
Volume 21 Number 5
Mr. Patapoum, a handyman pig, decides he must help his good friend Momo the duck reach his family, which have already left for the journey south. The trip, Mr. Patapoum discovers, is not an easy one, for there is a dark forest, a large lake, the biggest, hottest desert in the world, and a huge mountain range to cross. But with the aid of new friends met along the way and his never-failing handyman skills, Mr. Patapoum helps his friend and fulfils his own lifelong vacation dream.
The illustrations created by Tibo and Vaillancourt truly bring this story of unswerving friendship and mechanical ingenuity to life. Tibo and Vaillancourt modelled the characters out of clay and built elaborate sets out of a variety of materials. The minute detail found on each page can easily captivate the reader. Younger readers should particularly enjoy discovering what is amongst the junk that Croquin the crocodile lives in.
The story is developed following a pattern of the group travelling so far, asking directions of a new character, and being told of some insurmountable obstacle. Then Mr. Patapoum, with the help of the new friend, constructs some ever more elaborate device that will conquer their newest problem. This predictable device will hold the reader's attention.
For a beginning reader, the presentation of the text in two parallel columns on a single page may prove confusing. Fortunately, this style of presentation only occurs twice.
This delightful story with superb illustrations and a charming ending is a worthy addition to any collection of picture-books. Its reading level would be most appropriate for Primary children, but the artwork may prove inspirational for older creative minds and fingers as well.
Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher-librarian living in Old Perlican, Newfoundland.
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