________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 6 . . . . November 17, 2000

cover Marilou on Stage. (First Novel Series).

Raymond Plante. Illustrated by Marie-Claude Favreau. Translated by Sarah Cummins.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 1999.
59 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 0-88780-480-2 (pbk.). ISBN 0-88780-481-0 (cl.).

Grades 2 - 3 / Ages 7 - 8.

Review by Joan C. Simpson.

** /4

image With infinite patience, Miss Springwater assigns groups of students in her somewhat unruly class to dramatize La Fontaine's fables. Marilou, a natural leader, becomes the director and main character for the group performing "The Grasshopper and the Ants." (The fable is included in the book.) Marilou can dance, but, because her singing voice sounds like a vacuum cleaner, she takes voice lessons. Becoming a singer is hard work, and Marilou begins to sympathize with the grasshopper. Her solution to his unjust treatment - revise the story.

And so the Ant all winter long
Had only its garbage but nary a song
While the Grasshopper sailed to tropical seas
Singing (as grasshoppers do) with its knees
Although there are few Canadian first novels, this English translation by Sarah Cummins is not a priority purchase. The story is plausible with many humorous moments. The characters are entertaining, particularly Marilou who is at her best when convincing the class jock to play the ant. However, Marilou's tendency to be a know-it-all who muddles words only occurs in the first chapter, "La Fontaine was the one who wrote The Porpoise and the Mare." (p.10) The font is suitably large, but the vocabulary is challenging and the phrasing which results from the frequent line breaks is not always supportive of young readers.
Usually when Carmina sat
down at the piano and started
practising her scales, Marilou
wished she could actually turn
into an ant and crawl into an
underground ant compound.
But that day she thought it was
an amazing stroke of luck that
Carmina was not on tour.
Marie-Claude Favreau's whimsical grey scale sketches, reminiscent in style to that of Marie-Louise Gay's, effectively capture the mood of the story.

Recommended with Reservations.

Joan C. Simpson is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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