Total Pageviews

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Gustave, written by Remy Simard and illustrated by Pierre Pratt. Translated by Shelley Tanaka. Groundwood Books, 2014. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"So I cried.
I  cried all day long.
I couldn't go back home.
Not without Gustave.
What would I say to
my mother?
She always told us
not to go too far.
To play close to home.
But we didn't listen
to her."

This is another book that generated much discussion for our jury last year. It begins in great sadness for Gustave is gone - eaten by a cat. The two mouse friends are out on an adventure. They have strayed far from home when they suddenly meet up with a cat. They are surprised and terribly frightened! In a selfless move, Gustave attracts the attention of their tormentor. That allows our young mouse narrator the opportunity for escape. When he comes back, the cat is gone. So, sadly, is Gustave.

Alone and mourning, the mouse spends the day crying and worrying about sharing the news with his mother. She had warned them many times, entreating them to stay close to home. But, they craved adventure and further pastures. Off they went. Now, the survivor must deal with the anguish of sharing the news concerning his best friend. He walks slowly through dark urban streets alone. As he approaches the warm light of their mousehole, he fears his mother's wrath.

He need not worry. As he cries puddles of tears while explaining what has happened, his mother is not surprised and offers comfort for his loss. She expresses her love for Gustave as well. She holds her son all the while he is crying out his anguish. Then, she leads him to her closet where she finds a new companion, who greatly resembles his friend. His name is Harry and he is stuffed mouse.

"You will never be Gustave,"
I tell him.
"I know," he seems to say."

They like each other.

The India ink and gouache artwork done by the very talented Pierre Pratt is sombre and haunting, absolutely fitting with the subject of death. He creates huge landscapes that allow readers to see the tiny mouse and feel his sadness in the midst of such a huge loss. Once home with his mother, the dark tones lighten to match the warmth of her support and her thoughtful and loving gift.



No comments:

Post a Comment