Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Pull of the Ocean by Jean-Claude Mourlevat

The Pull of the Ocean is a retelling of Tom Thumb, set in contemporary rural France. Yann is the youngest of seven brothers. He is 10, but he is the size of a two-year-old. When Yann wakes the older boys one evening and tells them they must flee or be harmed by their father, the three sets of twins do not hesitate to follow him.

Jean-Claude Mourlevat uses multiple points of view in brief chapters to tell of their adventure on the road, headed towards the sea near Bordeaux. It's a captivating story with a touch of magic at its heart, magic that is best described as awe in the fact of human existence.

This would make a wonderful family read-aloud and is suitable for readers in Grade 4 and up.

Readalike: The book that comes most strongly to mind is Anne-Laure Bondoux's The Killer's Tears. Both have the timeless quality of fables, feature extremely poor families with terrible parents, and end in redemption. Both Mourlevat and Bondoux have been translated from French to English by the same person: Y. Maudet.

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