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Maillet, Antonine.

Toronto, Methuen, c1984. 76pp, cloth, $12.95, ISBN 0-458-98110-9. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Joan M. Payzant

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

Antonine Maillet is a native of Buctouche, New Brunswick. Her book, Pelagie: The Return to a Homeland,* won France's top literary prize—the Prix Goncourt. Christopher Cartier of Hazelnut was first published in French, under the title Chrisiophe Carrierde la Noisette Dit Nounours. Although the dust jacket states that it is a book for children, it would have the greatest appeal for a teenager or adult who enjoys fanciful reading. Wayne Grady has done a masterful job of translating Maillet's imaginative work.

Christopher Cartier, a most unusual bearcub, becomes the constant companion of the narrator, whose summer home is an abandoned lighthouse. A certain similarity to A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, and his owner Christopher Robin, bothered me as I read the book. Although one is set in an English wood and the other on the shores of New Brunswick, both books have a lovable bear as their central character, with an admiring human as friend, and other animals as the supporting cast.

The reader who is able to relax and accept the beautiful language, light touches of humour, and flights of fancy, without looking for a hidden message, will thoroughly enjoy this book. But, as in Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (Macmillan, 1970), I was constantly plagued by unanswered questions: "What is the author saying1' Is there a meaning behind the story that I am not grasping'.'" Superficially, it was a delightful tale, hut I was left with the uneasy feeling that I failed to grasp a deeper meaning that would have given Christopher Cartier more significance.

Joan M. Payzant, Dartmouth, N.S.

*Reviewed vol. X/3 1982, p.163.

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