cover image Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez

Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez

Christiane Duchesne, trans. from the French by Carolyn Perkes, illus. by François Thisdale. Pajama, $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-772-78089-5

This surreal allegory unfolds on the streets of a seaside town as a group of children watch an elderly gentleman in an overcoat and a red scarf emerge “out of a narrow laneway.” They see him every day, animals lingering nearby, but on Monday, something is different. “We held our breath. Was he waiting for someone?” A dove lands on Mister Rodriguez’s shoe. He attaches a thread to her foot, and the two set off, the man half-floating above the cobblestones. Every morning that week, as the diverse children watch, Mister Rodriguez meets another animal—a goldfish, a weary sheepdog, a limping cat (“He tied a pair of wings to the old kitty’s back”)—and the pair rise in weightless, slow-moving flight. Acrylic and digitally altered artwork by Thisdale (Poetree) offers crisp, photographic realism, with misty skies of purple and green that suggest atmospheric otherworldliness. Though Montreal author Duchesne seems to be offering a way to think about the fate of beings who have died, a lack of clarity around whether the animals are initially living may confuse or alarm young readers. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)