Our #RoadTripReadingClub is in Quebec! Did you know that over 95% of Quebecois speak French and more than 40% speak both of Canada’s official langues? Or that Quebec is home to the only walled city in Canada, Quebec City? Quebec also produces the most maple syrup of any of the other provinces in Canada. Want to learn more about Quebec? Read on!
Hélène has been inexplicably ostracized by the girls who were once her friends. Her school life is full of whispers and lies – Hélène weighs 216; she smells like BO. Her loving mother is too tired to be any help. Fortunately, Hélène has one consolation, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Hélène identifies strongly with Jane’s tribulations, and when she is lost in the pages of this wonderful book, she is able to ignore her tormentors. But when Hélène is humiliated on a class trip in front of her entire grade, she needs more than a fictional character to see herself as a person deserving of laughter and friendship. This emotionally honest and visually stunning graphic novel reveals the casual brutality of which children are capable, but also assures readers that redemption can be found through connecting with another, whether the other is a friend, a fictional character or even, amazingly, a fox.
In the days of Roch’s childhood, winters in the village of Ste. Justine were long. Life centered around school, church, and the hockey rink, and every boy’s hero was Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Maurice Richard. Everyone wore Richard’s number 9. They laced their skates like Richard. They even wore their hair like Richard. When Roch outgrows his cherished Canadiens sweater, his mother writes away for a new one. Much to Roch’s horror, he is sent the blue and white sweater of the rival Toronto Maple Leafs, dreaded and hated foes to his beloved team. How can Roch face the other kids at the rink?
Long before Oscar Peterson became a virtuoso jazz pianist, he was a boy who loved to play the trumpet. When childhood tuberculosis weakened his lungs, Oscar could no longer play his beloved instrument. He took up piano and the rest is history: Oscar went on to become an international jazz piano sensation. Oscar Lives Next Door is a fictional story inspired by these facts. The book imagines a next-door neighbour for Oscar named Millie, who gets into mischief with him but also appreciates his talents: Oscar hears music in everything, and Millie calls him a magician for the way he can coax melodies from his trumpet. Millie writes to Oscar during his long stay in the hospital for tuberculosis, and she encourages his earliest notes on the piano.
Set in Oscar’s true childhood neighbourhood of St-Henri — now known as Little Burgundy — the book provides a wonderful sense of this 1930s neighbourhood where most of Montreal’s Black working class population lived. Detailed digital illustrations make the community’s culture and music almost tangible.
The year is 1959, and 15-year-old Nipishish returns to his reserve in northern Quebec after being kicked out of residential school, where the principal tells him he’s a good-for-nothing who, like all Indians, can look forward to a life of drunkenness, prison and despair. The reserve, however, offers nothing to Nipishish. He remembers little of his late mother and father. In fact, he seems to know less about himself than the people at the band office. He must try to rediscover the old ways, face the officials who find him a threat, and learn the truth about his father’s death.
Find out more about Road Trip Reading Club at our website. Want to read along with us? Let us know how you’re doing or what your own Road Trip Reading looks like using the hashtag #RoadTripReadingClub. Also, be sure to enter our summer photography contest!
Stay tuned for our next stop, Toronto!