The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr

Nicolas Debon, Author, Nicolas Debon, Illustrator . Groundwood $17.95 (36p) ISBN 978-0-88899-731-9

D ebon (Four Pictures by Emily Carr) again employs the graphic-novel format, this time in a robust recounting of famed Canadian circus strongman, Louis Cyr. The story begins toward the end of the brawny performer's career as his health is failing. A conversation with his young daughter, Émiliana, prompts him to recall his life, starting with his Québec boyhood. “In this tough world of ours, a man without strength is nothing,” he remembers his grandfather and mentor saying. The chronological reminiscences, bound within orange text boxes within the panels, highlight major milestones of Cyr's life, such as when he lifts a huge draft horse as a teenager or when he founds his own circus. Émiliana's questions and memories (“Isn't it true that you arrested six dangerous bandits and carried them all off to jail at once??!”) propel the narrative and keep it flowing smoothly between Cyr's flashbacks and the present father-daughter conversation. A limited palette of gray, beige and peach hues showcases the vigor of the illustrations, which include roughly shaded muscles on angular subjects and white hatch marks to denote motion, emotion and perspiration. While endnotes offer concrete biographical information, intriguing trivia is scattered throughout the story (Cyr's mother stood at over six feet tall). A thoroughly absorbing tale about a turn-of-the-20th-century celebrity. Ages 7-up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2007
Release date: 03/01/2007
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