Monday, December 26, 2016

Belle and Sebastien The child of the mountains by Cecile Aubry illustrated by Helen Stephens

I mentioned in a previous post that I loved the movie based on this book and television series.

Belle and Sebastien was first written in French in 1965.  This edition is an English translation published in 2014.  At times the writing style is a little complex so I would recommend older Primary students might watch the movie before reading this book.  Originally there were thirteen episodes of the television series.  This book introduces the little boy Sebastien who is found as a newborn baby lying with his dying mother and adopted by the kind and wise Cesar.  We are also introduced to Belle and discover why she has become 'wild'.  The movie goes further into the story exploring the heroism of the French resistance.

Here is the scene where Sebastien sees Belle for the first time :

"Sebastien wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.  There she was standing tall, motionless save for the plume of her tail as it beat the air. Vapour came our of the half-open chops with their long black outline; two more back lines made her eyes stand out in the golden whiteness of her fur. ... He called out to her very softly : 'Belle ... "

The people in the village are sure Belle has become a dangerous beast.  Sebastien seems to have few allies.  The authorities are set to destroy Belle but this little boy is determined to save his best friend.

Through kindness, perseverance and love Belle is gradually tamed. Sebastien runs through the mountains trying to find Belle because he overhears the adults who are planning setting out to capture him. Exhausted he falls into a deep snow drift.  It is Belle who rescues her new friend but there will need to be two more rescues before the authorities are convinced Belle is not dangerous.

"It was in this moment that a dog's passion for man was truly born in Belle.  In a few agile bounds she was next to him, lifting him with her muzzle, breathing her strength into the child, forcing him to hang on to the long frozen locks of her fur."

You might like to listen to the beautiful song if you have a memory of the television series.  You can read the first pages of this book here.  Dog lovers might also enjoy Shiloh by Phyllis Naylor Reynolds, A dog's life by Ann M Martin or Stone Fox.

There is also a second movie about Belle and Sebastien which I hope to see soon.

No comments: