________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 1. . . .September 9, 2016


The Biggest Poutine in the World.

Andrée Poulin. Translated by Brigitte Waisberg.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2016.
158 pp., pbk., hc., epub & pdf, $11.95 (pbk.), $18.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-825-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-826-5 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55451-827-2 (epub), ISBN 978-1-55451-828-9 (pdf).

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Cate Carlyle.

**** /4



In less than an hour, I’ve planned it all out. I’ve even found a good name for it: the Phenomenal Poutine Project, PPP for short. I’ve decided to aim for 650 kilos.

Here are the ingredients I’ll need for my giant poutine:

300 kilos of French fries

150 kilos of cheese curds

200 kilos of gravy

With 650 kilos of poutine, I’ll be able to feed hundreds of people. It’ll be a huge French fry feast. I’ll have to find a place to hold the event. And some sponsors.

All the media will be talking about the kid from Sainte-Alphonse, Quebec, who made the biggest poutine in the world. I’ll give TV and radio interviews. My picture will be in all the papers. My video will go viral on YouTube. I’ll get thousands of new friends on Facebook. And the cherry on top: my picture in the Guinness World Records Book.

Maybe when I become famous, my father will finally show some interest in me. Maybe my mother will hear about her celebrity son. Maybe she’ll call to congratulate me. Maybe we’ll see each other again. That’s a lot of “maybes”, but it doesn’t cost anything to hope. And today, hope makes me feel like flying.


The Biggest Poutine in the World is the English translation of Andrée Poulin’s La plus grosse poutine du monde, winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award (2014) and the OLA Forest of Reading’s Le Prix Tamarac (2015). In this early chapter book, Thomas Gagné struggles with an emotionally absent father, a mother who disappeared from his life when he was just five-years-old, and the need to make his mark in the world. In order to create the largest poutine in the world, Thomas enlists the help of his friend Sam and the generosity of local businesses in his Quebec hometown. Thomas hopes that staging the event will catch his parents’ attention and possibly the return of his mother, whom he vaguely remembers making him the best poutine in the world. What Thomas doesn’t plan on is having to include Eliane, the cheese shop owner’s daughter with the prosthetic hand who is new to the school and too “weird” for Thomas. Unfortunately things don’t go as planned, and Thomas, Sam and Eliane make some bad choices, including kidnapping the mayor’s parrot for ransom and an ill-fated encounter with wasps in the woods. Despite having to deal with numerous setbacks and the debilitating revelation that Thomas’s mother was an alcoholic who was imprisoned after leaving him in an overheated car, the threesome eventually pull off the event.

      Poulin has crafted a unique tale which accurately captures the thoughts and feelings of a pre-teen boy struggling with a less than ideal home life and a past he is desperate to understand. Thomas makes some immature choices, but he pays the price for his actions – an important cautionary tale for young readers. The charming graphics featured in the book, including text messages, emails, charts and doodles, keep readers engaged. Poulin’s frequent references to current social media, apps and slang will also appeal to this book’s target audience. Chapters are brief, often humourous, and full of spot-on early adolescent emotion. In addition, the burgeoning romance between Thomas and Eliane is a sweet distraction in this action packed story. In The Biggest Poutine in the World, Poulin addresses family, alcoholism, loss, love, disability, goal setting and identity with an experienced hand and a compassionate heart.

Highly Recommended.

Cate Carlyle is a former elementary teacher currently residing in Halifax, NS, where she is a librarian at Mount Saint Vincent University. Cate has never met a cheese she didn’t like.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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