Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Gustave

Simard, Rémy (Author)
Pratt, Pierre (Illustrator)
Groundwood Books 2014. 56 pages
First published: 2014
ISBN: 9781554984510 (hardcover)
9781554984527 (e-book)
Original language: French
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, point of view, setting, structures and features

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This story explores a world of grief through the perspective of a young mouse. The language is embedded in the stricken mind of the narrator: “He’s gone.… The cat ate him.” Young readers will experience the mouse’s sense of loss (“Gustave won’t play with me anymore. He won’t tell me goodnight”), regret (“the cat was gone. And so was Gustave”), and guilt (“What would I say to my mother? She always told us not to go too far”).

Dark illustrations use rough dramatic brush effects to emphasize the frankly harrowing storyline. Buildings loom; blank windows and doorways pile up like gaping ghosts as the mourning mouse avoids going home. Colours warm when he tearfully approaches Mother at her kitchen counter Children will have their own recollections of being comforted, and readers of all ages will be relieved to learn the true identity of the beloved Gustave, when Mother offers a replacement soft toy. The final images glow successively brighter, as the two mouse characters—one expressive and alive—stand in mirror image of each other. “‘You will never be Gustave,’ I tell him. ‘I know,’ he seems to say.… And I like him already.”

  •  

    Before reading, share personal experiences regarding beloved stuffed animals, particularly those that have been lost. Reflect on why children become attached to certain toys. When and why do children stop playing with stuffed animals?

  •  As you read, discuss the illustrations. How does the illustrator use colour and composition to convey the mood of the story?
  •  

    What is Gustave’s relationship to the narrator? Does your thinking change throughout the story? Upon rereading, note the clues that helped you make and revise your inferences. 

  •  

    In comic-strip style, retell the story from the point of view of another character (the cat, Gustave, the mother). Use captions and thought or speech bubbles for the text. Like the illustrator, use colour to help convey the mood.

  •  

    Based on the two covers and the title page, what do you imagine the story will be about?

  •  

    Read the story up to the page where the mother takes the little mouse to her room. Predict the ending before reading the last pages. How is the ending a surprise?

  •  

    Discuss the setting and the use of colour in the illustrations. How do the illustrations change over the course of the story?

  •  

    Write about a soft toy or other object that was important to you when you were a small child. Explain why it was important. What happened to it? How did you feel?

  • To construct his/her identity
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Physical Education and Health