Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Biggest Poutine in the World

Poulin, Andrée (Author)
Serre, Marc (Illustrator)
Battuz, Christine (Illustrator)
Annick Press 2016. 160 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781554518265 (hardcover)
9781554518258 (paperback)
Original language: French
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Humour

Text Elements:

character, dialogue, figurative language, layout, multimodal, point of view

Award

The Forest of Reading – The Silver Birch Express Award Winner – 2017

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:

For 12-year-old Thomas Gagné, winning back his mother (who abandoned him and his father when Thomas was only five) is the main reason for making it into the Guinness Word Book of Records—for making the largest poutine. But trying to enlist the support of townsfolk is more work than Thomas imagined. This fun and touching plot includes the mystery behind his mother’s departure, some water tower hijinks, a kidnapped parrot and the development of a new friendship with Elie, who’s ignored by the other kids because she has an artificial hand.

Brief chapters use simple language and begin with evocative headlines: “A Candy-Pink Note,” “Handcuffed for Aggression,” “PHEW PHEW PHEW.” Varied layouts depict text-chats, humorous charts and email exchanges: “I’m sorry. Here’s the real truth: this Guinness World Record Project is important to me, For reasons I don’t want to explain;” “‘Keep your Asterixes. You can’t buy me. I don’t want anything from you. Except politeness.’ [signed] Elie-who-thinks-it’s-silly-to-sulk.”

An abundance of black-and-white spot illustrations are sprinkled throughout the text, some light-hearted, such as the giant carton of fries, surrounded by victory laurels. Others are poignant, such as the image of Thomas’s still-grieving father. “Are you going to forgive her someday?” Thomas asks, before affirming, “Well, I’m starting to forgive her.” The message of gaining maturity, perspective and empowerment is skillfully conveyed in this short and sweet story.

  •  

    In a reader-writer’s notebook, write about an adult who is very close to you. Explain how your life would be different without them.

  •  

    With a partner, discuss how Thomas' mother's leaving has affected him. Write a skit in which Thomas finally meets his mother. Act out the scene.

  •  

    With a partner, write the reasons Thomas used to persuade Mrs. Tartatcheff to let him use the arena to accomplish his personal challenge.

  •  

    Thomas’s mother left him because she was an alcoholic. Research alcoholism. In a group, discuss your findings and the effects alcoholism can have on families as well as on individuals.

  •  

    Write about one of your fears, explaining its source if you can. Exchange with a partner and offer written suggestions on how to conquer it.

  •  

    Browse through the book (cover, pictures, chapter titles). What do you notice? Make predictions about the story.

  •  

    As you read, create a story map. Include the characters’ emotions.

  •  

    Discuss the personal challenges of the characters in this story and how they deal with them.

  •  

    Who is involved in Thomas' challenge? Calculate the sponsors’ investments and the number of volunteer hours required to manage this feat.

  •  

    Plan a project for your school such as English day, carnival or makerspace day. Identify your needs, costs and dates. Write a persuasive letter to your principal and potential sponsors to convince them to support your project. Write an outline of the day’s tasks.

  •  

    How can a 12-year-old, with limited financial resources, make the biggest poutine in the world? In a small group, discuss probable requirements, obstacles to overcome and possible unexpected circumstances.

  •  As you read, look at the title of each upcoming chapter and predict what it will be about, based on what you have already read.
  •  

    Do you believe Thomas will forgive his mother? Send her an email, using Thomas’s voice, explaining why you will or will not forgive her.

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To construct his/her identity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Mathematics
  • Personal Development