________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 18. . . .May 2, 2008


On the Road Again!: More Travels With My Family.

Marie-Louise Gay & David Homel.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2008.
141 pp., hardcover, $15.95.
ISBN 978-0-88899-846-0.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Jane Bridle.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



One of the ways you could fit in was to participate in the local cultural activities. Nearly all of them had to do with food.

Sometimes we went to the sea coast, an hour away by car. But instead of lying on the beach or flying kites, we had to participate in clam-digging expeditions. The clams were no bigger than your thumbnail, and you caught them by running a rake through the sand, which had a mesh bag attached to it.

Other times we went into the mountains, where chestnut trees grew. We filled sacks full of chestnuts for roasting.

The only thing we didn't participate in was the boar hunt. A boar is kind of wild pig that likes to eat grapes. Actually, they look like pigs with tusks and they walk on their tiptoes, as if they were wearing high-heeled shoes. To hunt them, you had to have a licence. Luckily, we didn't have one.


Told from a child's point of view and in the first person by Max's big brother, Charlie, On the Road Again! tells the story of his family's year long sojourn in Celeriac, a small village in southern France. While Charlie and his little brother Max are, at first, reluctant to leave Canada ("the trip was going to be like Asterix, but without the jokes. Or like a year-long history class without recess"), the boys quickly adapt to life in the tiny village. They make friends with the local children, are eager participants in the Nativity pageant at Midnight Mass and play on the soccer team.

     Each short chapter is a charming snapshot of the everyday life and characters in rural France. Picture the fat dog Linda who sleeps in the middle as the street and acts as a living speed bump or Roger-Roger who makes it his daily job to direct the almost non-existent traffic. Some of the experiences the family encounters during their year include a version of the running of the bulls, an annual flood from the mountain streams, mushroom hunting and the spring migration of sheep. While a comic thread runs through the novel, many facts about culture and geography are peppered profusely in the narrative that both parents and young readers will find amusing and edifying. On the Road Again! is a delightful follow up to Travels with My Family (2006) by the husband and wife team of Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel. Marie-Louise Gay is best known for her "Stella and Sam" series of picture books. Homel is an award-winning screenwriter, novelist and translator. The collaboration features black and white illustrations in Gay's inimitable style. Move over Peter Mayle. This is A Year in Provence for the junior armchair traveler.


Jane Bridle is a librarian with Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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