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Directed by Christina Mairin
School Services of Canada, 1993. VHS cassette, 13 min., $99.95.


Produced by Joanne Culley; directed by Christina Mairin
School Services of Canada, 1993. VHS cassette, 13 min., $99.95. Both distributed by School Services of Canada, 66 Portland St., Toronto, Cmt. M5V 2M8.

Grades K-6 /Ages 5 to 11

Reviewed by MaryLynn Gagne

Volume 21 Number 6
1993 November

Gilles Tibo is the author and illustrator of several engaging picture-books for preschoolers and beginning readers. He has published in both French and English, and his creations include the award-winning Simon and the Snow/lakes1 and Simon et la ville de carton (Tundra Books, 1992).2 Tibo has also illustrated children's books by other authors including Robert Munsch and Marie-Francine Hebert.

This live-action video, available in French and English versions, introduces Tibo's work and offers a playful look at the everyday life of the artist. The video presents the viewer with a collage of images: we see Tibo reading aloud to a horse, playing his drums, cavorting on a roof-top, and walking the city streets in the company of a life-sized soft sculpture of Simon. Background information is provided by a female narrator, while Tibo himself discusses the inspiration for his books and reads excerpts from The King of Sleep and Simon and the Snowflakes. The final segment of the video shows the artist at work in his Montreal studio.

Unfortunately, this production suffers from the lack of a clearly defined audience. In the opening scenes, the video seems aimed towards the very young viewer. Later segments, however, could only be appreciated by a slightly more sophisticated audience. And, while the French version might seem ideally suited to the Immersion classroom, students advanced enough to understand the script would not likely find the childlike format appealing.

This is especially unfortunate, since the French version of this production is really much better than the English. Tibo appears natural and unforced in the former; in the latter he seems, understandably, less at ease. The French version is also 5 minutes longer, due in part to the inexplicable addition of a few still shots of Tibo's childhood not in the English version, and in part to the author's increased loquacity when speaking in his native tongue.

On the positive side, Tibo's delightful, light-infused illustrations translate very well to the screen and will serve as a good introduction for those not already familiar with his style. The segment of the video filmed in Tibo's studio also deserves honourable mention. Viewers young and old alike will be drawn into the creative process as the artist demonstrates the painstaking air-brush technique he uses in his artwork. The voice-over narration clearly explains each step in the procedure and may well inspire budding artists to attempt this technique.

Brief teacher's guides accompany the videos and provide background information on the author/illustrator, a chronology of publications, a list of awards, and some suggested follow-up activities for classroom use.

French version recommended for francophone students.

English version recommended as an optional purchase.

MaryLynn Gagne is a reference librarian with the Education Library, University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
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