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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Strike at Charles’ Farm: Grève à la Ferme de Charles is a bilingual educational picture book for children written by Dr. Nicole and illustrated by Mylene Villeneuve. The animals are not cooperating with Charles, and they have refused to do their normal chores. The hen won’t lay eggs, and the dog refuses to look after the sheep. Charles is not sure what to do, so he gathers all the discontented animals together and asks each one what they want. Some of the animals simply want more food, or easier tasks, while others, like the dog, want the impossible as quieter sheep were simply not to be had. Charles has a solution, but the animals aren’t at all enthusiastic about his proposal.
Dr. Nicole’s children’s bilingual picture book introduces a working farm to young readers complete with farm animals and the parts they play, and it does so in both French and English. The striking animals are marvelously portrayed by illustrator, Mylene Villeneuve. Each panel is bold and brightly colored, and those discontented expressions on the animals’ faces are hilarious. As I read the story, I was impressed by how much of my old French was returning to me, and how I was getting familiar once again with the contrasting word constructions used in each language. Dr. Nicole’s book teaches as it entertains, and the reader is immersed in both languages at the same time, letting the reader compare the languages and see where they are alike and where they differ.
Young readers are exposed to a fair amount of animal-related vocabulary, including animal sounds, and their comprehension can be enhanced through the use of the questions given at the end of the text. Strike at Charles’ Farm: Grève à la Ferme de Charles illustrates how learning a second language can be fun and even relatively simple, and it’s most highly recommended.