Storm at Batoche

Storm at Batoche

by Mantha Trottier, John Mantha

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Canadian Children's Book Centre, Our Choice selection

    They had been heading to Batoche when the storm struck. A few hours more and they might have made it. Then the wagon lurched to one side. James tumbled out. He shouted to his parents, but the wind stole his words away. His mother turned in her sleep as the wagon disappeared into


Canadian Children's Book Centre, Our Choice selection

    They had been heading to Batoche when the storm struck. A few hours more and they might have made it. Then the wagon lurched to one side. James tumbled out. He shouted to his parents, but the wind stole his words away. His mother turned in her sleep as the wagon disappeared into the swirling whiteness.

During a fierce prairie storm, James falls out of his family's wagon and his calls for help are lost in the howl of the wind. After his parents vanish into the blizzard, a man on horseback appears and takes James to the safety and warmth of his small cabin. The man will only say that his name is Louis. While he prepares an evening meal of gallette, Louis promises to teach James how to make it in the morning. When he does, James declares his mother makes the same type of bread but she calls it "bannock," not "gallette," underscoring the differences and similarities between their cultures.

This imaginary encounter between Louis Riel and a young boy brings to light how insignificant the differences between people are and the tragic consequences of not remembering how much we all share. The historical context for the story is found in the Afterword. On the last page of the book there is an easy recipe for gallette/bannock.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a memorable historical picture book that might lead a young reader to seek more information about this time in our collective history. Maxine Trottier gives thought to the imagined relationship between this gentle man and a young boy. In an author's note at the end, she gives us a glimpse of the time when Louis Riel lived and fought for the rights of his people. She also includes a recipe for gallette, which her French Canadian grandmother made for her as a child. It was always a special treat, as is this story."
Brandon Sun

"Trottier shows the deep humanity of Riel..."
Times-Colonist, Victoria, BC

"The author effectively uses the route through the reader's stomach to strengthen her message about the importance of bridging cultural differences and sharing."
Quill and Quire

Children's Literature
Louis Riel remains a controversial figure in nineteenth-century Canadian history. An educated Métis, he led a movement to gain rights to land that the Métis had been living on; the movement culminated in a battle near Batoche, in Saskatchewan, which the Métis lost. Riel went into hiding but soon turned himself in, was tried and executed. This information is contained in an afterword, putting into historical context an imaginary encounter between Riel and a young boy, James, who is traveling with his parents in a covered wagon when they are engulfed in a snowstorm. As the wagon lurches, James falls out unnoticed, and the storm blows away his cries for help. Along comes a man on a horse who takes him to his cabin, where they wait out the storm baking bread (gallette to Louis, bannock to James) and form a friendship despite their differences. Competent color paintings capture the fury of the storm and the prairie's vast beauty, and put a kind face on the man who was convicted as an enemy of the country. 2001, Stoddart, . Ages 7 to 11. Reviewer: Susan Stan
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This bland story stiffly illustrated with paintings of ill-proportioned people does not compel much interest. James falls out of his Scottish immigrant family's wagon during a snowstorm on the Canadian prairie and is rescued by a man who identifies himself only as Louis. Waiting out the blizzard in his small cabin, the two bake gallette, as the man calls it, or bannock, as James stubbornly insists it should be called. Three days later when the weather has cleared, Louis drops the boy off near his town but refuses to go closer. Strangely, James doesn't tell his parents how he survived the storm and even stranger, they do not ask. Nor does he seek the identity of the mysterious man. James later thinks back on the incident and concludes, "Bannock or gallette, between two friends there is no difference." A note explains that the stranger was Louis Riel, a M tis, who was called upon to help his people retain their land that the Canadian government demanded in the 1880s. He was later executed for high treason. An easy recipe for the flat cake follows. For those libraries with special interests in the M tis people or Canadian history, the book may serve as an introduction, but it is definitely not a first purchase.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
In the winter of 1884 young James is traveling by wagon with his parents across the snow covered prairies. During a storm at night James falls out of his family's wagon and falls behind. Faced with the possibility of freezing to death on the open plan, James is rescued by a man named Louis who takes him back to a cabin. Louis is Metis (a person of French and Native Canadian heritage) and tells a sad tale about a boy who loses his family and people. When the storm finally ends, Louis takes James to the edge of a town but refuses to enter it — and with good reason. Enthusiastically recommended for young readers 4 through 8, Maxine Trottier's compelling and original story is impressively illustrated with John Mantha's strikingly memorable artwork. There is even a recipe for how to make a frontier bread called "bannock".

Product Details

Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
15 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Maxine Trottier:
A prolific writer and educator, Maxine Trottier makes history come alive in picture books and novels for young readers. Her award-winning titles include Claire's Gift, The Paint Box, and Prairie Willow. Maxine's books have earned the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year, the Mr. Christie's Book Award and twice the Ontario Woman Teacher's Federation Writing Award. Born in Michigan, Maxine is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S. and makes her home in Port Stanley, Ontario.

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