A Rogue Librarian's Reading List











{November 10, 2012}   La Saison des Pluies by Mario Brassard

Plot: Junior’s father dies in a tragic car accident and he must learn to deal with the loss.

For the third year in a row, I’ve been invited to attend the TD children’s literature award (French) ceremony. It’s always a pleasure, in particular because I get to bring home the winning book. This year it was La saison de pluies (which translates as The Rainy Season) by Mario Brassard, illustrated by Suana Verelst.

This is a sad, realistic story and you really do get caught up in Junior’s emotions, but I found it a little unsubtle thematically. It is about Junior’s grief about his father and nothing else, no frame or secondary storyline. This isn’t bad per se but it does make it feel a little educational, not something a child would pick up for the joy a reading. The subtly comes through in the language: it is almost a poem. The word is occasionally a little sophisticated for a 7-year-old boy but not enough to take me out of the story.

Verelst’s sketchy, black and white art really ads to the tragedy of the story. Some of my favorite illustrations include an attempt to draw Junior’s father’s absence and Junior’s foot peaking onto the otherwise blank page as he runs away. Some of the other illustrations lack the significance and emotion of my two favorites but on the whole they are well chosen and well executed. La saision des pluies wouldn’t be the same book without these pictures.

It is a lovely, poetic story and it deserves its award but I’m starting to think that award juries have a bias for stories about death and war. I can almost always pick out the winner from the shortlist. Other subjects – and, gods forbid, funny books – are worthy of praise and reward too and may appeal more widely to children than something with so obvious an agenda. But that’s just my two cents.

I look forward to finding out who wins the English version of the award.

2012 (#103)

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