CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 34. . . .May 3, 2013
Part of Sleeping Bear Press’ “Discover Canada” series, this book continues the series’ traditional format of short poems illustrating a provincial feature for each letter of the alphabet, along with informational sidebars. In the spirit of the province portrayed here, the text is entirely bilingual, with the poems parallel but not literal translations. Some of the features of Québec here are Montréal’s Bixi bike system, Cirque du Soleil, Québec City, and, of course, poutine, all portraying the geography, history, culture, and people of the province, in a picture book format with double-age spreads for many of the features.
Given the challenge of finding words that are either identical in both languages, or are proper names, or where the French word is unique (as in poutine), the author has succeeded very well with this compilation. The poems, while occasionally awkward, similarly rise to the challenge of expressing the same sentiment in similar format while not sacrificing rhyme or rhythm. Renné Benoit’s soft-hued illustrations are expressive and joyful, giving a real feel to some of the more familiar tableaux (like the Old Montréal street scene closely resembling Place Jacques-Cartier). There are even subtle nods to linguistic and political sensitivities, such as the placing of French first on every page and the description of the need for the “survival” of the French language through Bill 101.
But mostly, this is a colorful, authentic, and expressively bilingual book that will find its home in schools and libraries across Canada, where it deserves to be.
Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario.
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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.