Sunday, February 4, 2018

Book Review: 'Children's Books' by Francois Bissonnette

In 1983, François Bissonnette, created the early versions of the Zirons. But it was not until 1998, a few years after the birth of his two daughters, that the author published his first book of Zirons. And lucky for all that he has embraced a new direction. Those little stories involve imagination, realism, surrealism, and magic and are bound to be favorites of children throughout the world. Then came his Animal Books for Children for boys and girls age group 6 to 9 years. Instead of fairy tales and fantasies, this series is meant to be a friendly study of the interesting animals of the world. And now he is writing Animal Stories, weaving facts into fiction but with the same attention to illustrative effects that children love.

François understand the importance of speaking in a way that children can participate. His animal stories are indeed stories rather than descriptions of certain animals. The stories are accompanied by splendid color photographs of the animals in question. And as the art on the cover suggests, these two stories involve dogs – ‘The Dog that Did Not Like Water’ and ‘The Skunk and the Dog’

In the first story François gives us a taste of how he relates to animals – ‘Spencer was a great dog. He loved to do many things, but he hated water.
He would drink it, of course, but he refused to play in it. His mother, Sally, often tried to get him into the water.’
Sally compares Spencer to cats who hate going to water and goes off to swim. Spencer’s best friend is Mittens the cat. The play and romp until on a rainy day Mittens gets swept into the stream and despite his fears (and with Mitten’s needs0 Spencer swims and saves his best friend!

‘The Skunk and the Dog’ relates the story of Sami the Skunk who had no friends because others were afraid of her. She watches puppies play and wants to join but they didn’t like her skunky smell. Sami encounters a little sad puppy Igloo who is not liked by his fellow puppies because he lacks a sense of smell. The two become playmates and fast friends and eventually all the other puppies want to join in and promise never to make fun of Sami or Igloo. As Sami explains, ‘“I watched you puppies for a long time, wishing that you were not so afraid of me. I wanted to play with you very much. I only spray when I am really afraid, and I cannot change the way that I smell. I’m a skunk; it is the way I was born, just like you were all born to be dogs.”

Sweet stories about animals and friendship – tales children will love as they get to know the characters by color photographs. Grady Harp, July 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.