November 12, 2018

Tout le monde à bord!

Written by Rhéa Dufresne
Illustrated by Marion Arbona
Monsieur Ed
32 pp.
Ages 4+
April 2018

Prepare for an explosion for the senses amidst the busyness of the animals as they leave the city for vacations. Tout le monde à bord! has all the hallmarks for a holiday read for little ones with the bustling activity of locating creatures and solving shadow mysteries to keep them engrossed for the duration of travel.

A wild assortment of animals, including a zebra, penguin, giraffe, fish, and aardvark, gloriously rich in colour and shape, gather at the train station to board the train. It's mayhem as they search for their companions and squeeze aboard ready to set out.
From Tout le monde à bord! by Rhéa Dufresne, illus. by Marion Arbona
Parents will recognize the cries of the animals as they wonder if they've forgotten anything, as they urge others to hurry, as they complain that it's going to be crowded, and then the need to wait for that ever late traveller.

Even as the train winds and weaves its way through forests and hills to the sandy desert into the snowy mountains, jungle, sea and marsh, different shadows of creatures appear.  Young ones might think they can identify each animal behind the clouds of dust or hot chocolate steam or whale blowhole stream, but they'll probably be wrong every time. (The shadow creatures in the illustration below certainly look like birds with webbed feet and beaks, but don't be fooled.)
From Tout le monde à bord! by Rhéa Dufresne, illus. by Marion Arbona
And as they travel, the hilarity of their dialogue and outbursts reveal family squabbles, worries, joys, and more. From the penguin chastizing her mate-Je t'avais dit qu'on aurait mieux faut d'aller chez ma mère au Pôle Nord ("I told you it would be better to go to my mother's at the North Pole")–to the vendor selling plankton ice cream at the sea, Tout le monde à bord! is rich in dialogue and commentary. And with Marion Arbona's wonderfully stylized creatures and the assortment of travel spots, Tout le monde à bord is a trip for the visual senses and geographical sensibilities.

Rhéa Dufresne and Marion Arbona are both stars in the Quebec children's literature world. Having collaborated on award-winning titles like Arachnéa (Éditions de l'Isatis, 2012) and La nuit (Éditions de l'Isatis, 2015), as well as on books separately, they are well-known amongst French-language youngCanLit creators and to young readers. But, even though Tout le monde à bord! is a French-language picture book, the simplicity of the story and the bounty of its illustrations make it accessible to both French speakers andthose learning the language. (Teachers, it would also be a superb book for developing visual literacy and using the artwork to help translate the text.)

Whether a holiday in the summer or a winter vacation, take a trip with this motley crew of animals on their vacances. There's lots to experience throughout their journey and your reading of Tout le monde à bord!

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