I already have a copy of Un éléphant qui se balançait, illustrated by Marianne Dubuc (and which I can review later), so I was all primed to like her when I went to the local library and found Devant ma maison. So far, the Kid (10 months) is not super interested in this book, other than to flip through the pages and look at the occasional picture, but I just love it. The book says it’s for “3 à 5 ans”, so I think the Kid will grow into it. He loves Un éléphant, I just don’t think he understands what’s happening in Devant ma maison.
Devant ma maison is kind of a story, written in a way that reminds me of that song: “and…the green grass grew all around, all around, and the green grass grew all around” (or “l’arbre est dans ces feuilles, maridon, maridé”). By this, I mean that it begins and ends at “my house” – like a rondo – but in between the reader goes through a number of discoveries and adventures. What kind of adventures? Well, I don’t want to give away too much, but it includes the stars, the abominable snowman, Monsieur Séguin’s goat, a spaceship, a family of ducklings, and a single sock lying on the floor beside the bed (as socks are wont to do).
Each turn of the page brings a turn of events – and we’re off to play an illustrated word-association game: In the big cloud there is rain. In the rain, is a mother duck and her little ducklings. Behind the ducklings is a baby penguin who is lost. Not far from the baby penguin is his papa! The “associations” are imaginative and slightly akilter, but that is the best part. Who wants to read a book that always follows a straight line? Not me! Dubuc’s way is much more clever and fun.
And of course, there are her illustrations. I encourage you to take a peek at her blog, where she posts some of her unpublished drawings: mariannedubuc.blogspot.ca, because they are well worth a look. They’ll give you an idea of her flavour and maybe convince you to go and pick up one of her books – many of which are available in English translation, including this one (English title: In Front of My House).
Favourite Word Association: An in the stomach of Babette (the blue whale), a tuna fish sandwich, an old boot, a boat, a parakeet, an accordion, my old teddy bear, a little elf, a gruyère, and a magic hat.
Favourite Illustration: A family of rabbits, standing in a row.