Une Ville imaginaire.
Jacques Savoie. Illustrated by Geneviève Côté.
Grades 3 - 7 / Ages 8 - 12.
C'est quoi, ces petits carreaux que tu dessines? a demandé Adelè en entrant dans la chambre.
La petite serrait sa poupée décousue dans ses bras et regardait le plan de la ville comme si elle avait le vertige.
Une image . . . prise à vol d'oiseau, a répondu Charlie. Comme si on passait au-dessus de Chicago en avion.
. . . à vol d'oiseau, répété Adèle.
Quelque chose l'intriguait dans ces mots. Elle s'est penchée au-dessus de Charlie pour voir de plus près.
Moi aussi, j'aimerais faire du vol d'oiseau, déclara-t-elle.
Acadian novelist, scriptwriter and musician, Jacques Savoie celebrates the magic of words and the imagination in this novel for young people. Here, the simple metaphor, "a bird's eye view," sets young Adele on a flight of fantasy guaranteed to distract her parents' attention away from her brother, Charlie, and his propensity for getting into trouble. After Adèle and her doll fall off a ladder, an action which results in Adèle's dislocating her hip, her parents are convinced that they must dissuade her from taking flight. Unfortunately, even the cautionary tale of Icarus and Daedelus has no effect. According to Adèle, Icarus could have succeeded if only he's used super-glue instead of wax! Charlie, however, is more sceptical of his sister's story - surely Adèle is taking advantage of their parents' credulity in order to focus their attention on her. Still the situation allows him, with his sister Caroline's help, to search freely on the Internet for the collection of city maps he needs to create his own imaginary city. Eventually his new creation offers a safe solution to Adèle's desire for flight, even though it also means replacing his parents' work on an ad campaign with a hard disk full of city maps from around the world.
Savoie is best known for Les Portes tournantes, a novel written for adults and adapted for the screen in 1988. This is his second novel for children published by La Courte échelle in the series, Roman Jeunesse. Une Ville imaginaire establishes a complicity with young readers by having the narrator frequently lend the narrative voice to each of the three children. Bridging the gap between the children and their devoted but gullible parents is the colourful Capitaine Santerre who offers comfort and advice to adults and children alike. His project of encouraging his "éphémères éternelles," flowers that normally grow only in sewers, to flourish in the urban light of day echoes the children's sense of fantasy and beauty. On the book's cover, Geneviève Côté's colourful drawing of Adèle in flight over Charlie's imaginary city invites the reader to leave the mundane behind while her black and white sketches accompanying the text bring to life Savoie's colourful characters.
Kathleen L. Kellett-Betsos teaches Quebecois and French-Canadian civilization and literature at Ryerson Polytechnic University.
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