New Children's Book: The Littlest Voyageur By Margi PreusApr 12, 2020 10:54AM ● By Editor
A red squirrel, Jean Pierre Petit Le Rouge, stows away on a canoe to fulfill his dream of joining a group of voyageurs–men who paddle canoes filled with goods to a trading post thousands of miles away.
It is 1792 and unbeknownst to a group of voyageurs traveling from Montreal to Grand Portage, an intrepid squirrel, Jean Pierre Petit Le Rouge, sneaks onto their canoe. Le Rouge is soon discovered because he can’t contain his excitement–mon dieu he is so enthusiastic. The smells! The vistas! The comradery!
The voyageurs are not particularly happy to have him, especially because Le Rouge rides, but he does not paddle. He eats, but he does not cook. He doesn’t even carry anything on portages–sometimes it is he who has to be carried. He also has a terrible singing voice. What kind of voyageur is that?
When they finally arrive at the trading post Le Rouge is in for a terrible shock–the voyageurs have traveled all those miles to collect beaver pelts. With the help of Monique, a smart and sweet flying squirrel, Le Rouge organizes his fur-bearing friends of the forest to ambush the men and try and convince them to quit being voyageurs.
Written by a Newbery honor author, the book has over 20 black-and-white illustrations.
★ “In this spry novel, Newbery Honoree Preus deftly threads together a nature adventure, history lesson, cautionary environmental tale, and an animal love story. . . . Preus wraps up her entertaining and informative narrative on a heartwarming note as the loquacious, wryly contemplative squirrel finds his way—back home and in life. Evocative pictures by Pilgrim (Big and Little) augment the story’s ample heart and humor, and an author’s note contextualizes the fur trade, including its impact on indigenous people.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Le Rouge relates his story with drama and flair, presenting a colorful prism through which to view the daily life of a voyageur. . . . A rousing introduction to the life of a voyageur told from a unique perspective.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Preus’ text is rich in setting detail, especially regarding the natural world that the voyageurs traverse. She also excels at integrating French vocabulary into the story and appends a pronunciation guide. Pilgrim’s frequent black-and-white illustrations help to clarify details and break up the text for younger readers. . . . will please readers”—Booklist
“a boatload of information and entertainment. Softly sketched black and white illustrations, a French pronunciation guide, and historical notes are included.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books