cover image The Strongest Man in the World: The Legend of Louis Cyr

The Strongest Man in the World: The Legend of Louis Cyr

Lucie Papineau, illus. by Caroline Hamel. Auzou (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-2-7338-4614-8

Cyprien-Noé Cyr performed his first feat of strength when he was only eight, shouldering a lost calf and carrying it home. The 19th-century Canadian farmboy got a job as a lumberjack after carrying his boss out of the forest, then emigrated to work in a Massachusetts textile factory: “Easily lifting 180-pound boxes of cotton, he was soon earning the wages of two men.” (That’s when his first name was changed to Louis.) Hamel draws flat, wide-eyed figures whose noses are attached to their faces in a delightfully offhanded manner. She revels in period costumes and mechanical detail, including railway cars and overhead electrical wires, factory equipment, and the weight lifter’s trunks and tights Louis adopts when he turns professional. Papineau’s (Leon the Raccoon) biography concludes at the moment Louis achieves worldwide fame, allowing him to enjoy the fruits of his celebrity with his wife and daughter, “the two suns in his universe.” The jacket unfolds into a two-sided poster with actual photos of Cyr, a strange but inspiring hero who stayed focused on the gift he sensed might make his fortune. Ages 8–up. (May)