Cyprien-Noé Cyr was born to a poor farming family in a small Quebec village that had no idea one of their own would one day attain worldwide fame.
As Cyprien-Noé grew, Grandpa Pierre took him to Mr. Trudeau’s blacksmith shop. Not only was Mr. Trudeau strong enough to hammer red-hot horseshoes into shape, he could also lift the heavy iron anvil. These feats inspired Cyprien-Noé to become as strong as Mr. Trudeau. When he was a teen, the family’s finances forced them to move to Lowell, Massachusetts. In hopes of helping him assimilate, Cyprien-Noé’s parents changed his name to Louis as they settled in their new life. There, Louis and his father found work at a textile mill where Louis proved his worth by lifting boxes of cotton that weighed almost 200 pounds. Soon, many men challenged Louis’ strength, though none could best him. After catching the attention of a coach, Louis’ career as a weight lifter took off, and he won championship after championship in Canada, the United States, and in Europe, ultimately earning the title the Strongest Man in the World. Papineau’s simple text shares interesting details about Louis Cyr’s fascinating life in an accessible text punctuated by well-chosen details. Hamel’s whimsical illustrations have a matte, folk-art look that suits her rough-hewn subject, surrounding him with a largely white though socio-economically diverse cast. There are no source notes or bibliography, but the cover unfolds to reveal a timeline and a poster with archival photos—alas, this will be unavailable to children checking the book out of the library.
A strong, unusual addition to the biography shelf. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)