The Sugaring-Off Party
Christine Linge is a past director of the Toronto & District Parent
Co-operative Preschool Corporation and a freelance writer.
On the eve of his first “sugaring-off” party, Paul asks his
grandmother to describe her first taste of the cabane а sucre 60 years
earlier. Grandmиre recounts the trip to her Tante Loulou’s
maple-sugar forest and describes the relatives who arrived on “skis or
snowshoes; some by sled or horse-drawn wagon.” She remembers
scampering about with her cousins, tasting the maple sap; the robust
supper followed by a lively dance; and, finally, the highlight of the
visit, “la tire sur la neige”—the maple-taffy snowsicle for each
child’s dessert. Her story ends under the full Sugar Moon as the
family returns home, sleepy and joyful, in their horse-drawn sleigh.
The excitement of party time is conveyed in the brisk prose, peppered
with French phrases (always translated—Grandmиre’s personal turn of
phrase is apparent but not overwhelming). London does not skimp on
detail, communicating the ambience of a spring evening in Quebec of
yesteryear through a few well-chosen images; in our mind’s eye, we see
how “clumps of melting snow fell softly off the trees ... the brooks
still crackled with ice.” Pelletier’s bright folk paintings vibrate
with life. His bold colors and outlines leap from scenes crowded with
detail; his subtle winter skies and blue-tinged snow fill the viewer
with the peace and the beauty of the Quebec countryside. A glossary of
French phrases and the words to “Alouette” complete the volume.