An illustrated biography of a legendary strongman from Montreal.
This is a love letter of a biography about a colorful character who was an eccentric fixture in Montreal for many years: record-holding strongman Antonio Barichievich. After comical speculations about how he came to be—born to a family of giant lumberjacks, raised by bears on another planet—the cheery illustrations detail the amazing feats performed by the large, hairy, white Croatian immigrant. The blend of fanciful speculation with stories that seem improbable is clearly intentional—endnotes reveal that after Barichievich’s death, many of his crazy stories were discovered to be true. The real-life tall-tale effect, as readers move through the series of Antonio’s accomplishments (pulling trains and buses, wrestling a bear, swinging children on his braids, etc.), will surely inspire child readers’ imaginations (and will have great classroom applications). The comedic treatment never mocks Antonio but celebrates him in all his weird glory—throughout, he is depicted as having fun just by being his extraordinary self. After his death, his impact is shown by the flowers and memorials left on his favorite bench as well as by a cat (that appears throughout the book) crying for him. The text is spare and engaging, and the type is set to integrate neatly with the playful art.
A tribute as heartfelt as it is joyous and a fitting way to remember this larger-than-life performer. (comics guide for parents and teachers) (Graphic biography. 5-8)