When the great voices are illustrated

On the pages of the beautiful books of the new collection Les grandesœurs, the words of David Goudreault and Raymond Lévesque escape, run on the walls or jump in the fields, through the illustrations of Laurent Pinabel and Pierre Pratt.

This is a bit like the spirit of the initiative launched by Les 400 coups this month. Make texts, poems or songs of major importance into illustrated works that allow them to take off.

The 400 blows respectively had recourse to Pierre Pratt, to illustrate When men live on love, by Raymond Lévesque, and Laurent Pinabel, to illustrate the text I appeal to poetry,the David Goudreault.

These are of course completely different universes, as will undoubtedly be the other titles to come of the collection. But all these texts are like punches, a call to reflect.

“It must be texts which have a potential for discussion, which can stimulate a reflection on humanity”, says the editor of the 400 blows, Simon de Jocas.

It was upon his arrival as owner of the publishing house in 2014 that the publisher had the idea for this collection. Realized that there was a lack of books of this kind for high school students, he decided to turn it into a collection for adults, even if it meant that it would then “descend” on the tables of high school students. “I was shown a book made from the text The deserter, by Boris Vian, telling me that these were the kind of books that were lacking in secondary schools, ”he recalls. After reflection, Simon de Jocas came to think that Raymond Lévesque represented a sort of Boris Vian from Quebec.

Then, while listening to the radio, he hears David Goudreault “slammer” I appeal to poetry and decides to make it the second title of the collection. Unfortunately, Lévesque was unable to see the finished book, as he passed away in February 2021.

Powerful texts

“For me, the texts must be powerful,” says Simon de Jocas. They must have the possibility of leaving a trace. There are some who have already left a mark. “

The next line on Simon de Jocas’s radar, a song, is Hymn to Hope, by Lise Aubut and Édith Butler, which is also sung around the world, in Spanish, Hebrew, German and Arabic …

“What will the next texts be? The question is open, ”says Simon de Jocas, who says he is interested in Speak White by Michèle Lalonde. For the moment, the texts chosen are written by Quebeckers or Franco-Canadians, but the collection cannot be excluded from venturing elsewhere. How about speeches by Martin Luther King or Desmond Tutu? suggests the editor.

With this collection, Les 400 coups also want to break with their “hypercategorized” image of children’s literature and do not hesitate to seek illustrators, or taggers, who have never worked for the publishing house. “For each project, we try to create a winning duo,” says de Jocas.

I appeal to poetry / When men will live in love

David Goudreault, illustrations by Laurent Pinabel, Les 400 coups “Les grandes vocal”, Montreal, 2021, 48 pages

Raymond Lévesque, illustrations by Pierre Pratt, Les 400 coups “Les grandes vocal”, Montreal, 2021, 72 pages

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