Where are my Onions?
Paulette Sarmonpal. Illustrated by Silvia Vignale.
Kindergarten - grade 2 / Ages 5 - 7.
Jamie's cat, Quizz, loved to run out and sniff the onions and wrap his tail around the onion man's leg. Unfortunately the onion man did not like cats playing with his onions.This quirky little book with its unusual subject - a French onion seller losing his onions on a London street - will certainly intrigue children. Jean-Claude regularly travelled by bicycle and ferry from Dieppe to London to hawk onions. Jamie loved to carry the strings of onions his mother always bought, but Jamie's cat Quizz loved them even more. It is no surprise, then, that when the onions disappear and the whole neighbourhood is searched, they are eventually located under a sleeping Quizz. Astute children will guess the happy ending, but, because the search is declared unsuccessful before the famous nose of Jean-Claude sniffs out the culprit in Jamie's bedroom, there is more drama in the discovery. A most satisfying conclusion has all the neighbours sharing a huge pot of delicious onion soup while Jean-Claude proudly exclaims: "Ce sont mes oignons!"
Quizz was a peculiar cat who never gave up trying to chase the onions. He thought they were the most interesting things he had ever seen. Some onion skins were shiny and smooth, some were crispy and flaking off and some made nice crackling scrunching noises. Onions were such good round shapes for rolling along the ground. With so many on a string, they pull and tangle up in your paws.
Quizz loved everything about onions and was always trying to get a string for himself.
Interspersed throughout the book in large bold type are Jean-Claude's French expressions. For most of these, an English translation is provided in brackets in a smaller font. This use of French lends cultural veracity to the story, and the interjections of the storyteller's voice with phrases such as, "how he knew I cannot tell," and, "you see," create a personal warmth. Once there is an unfortunate shift from the third person to the second when talking about the cat, but this is a very minor slip in an otherwise very readable story.
The illustrations are done in coloured pencil with soft colour washes. Playful and energetic, they propel the story with a light touch of humour. The design is pleasing as well, with a judicious use of font size and variation in the placement of the text. Overall, a book to be shared and enjoyed.
Alison Mews is the Coordinator of the Centre for Instructional Services in the Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John's, NF.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - DECEMBER 12, 1997.
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