Danièle Archambault, linguist and cartoonist
Danièle Archambault is a linguist and a cartoonist. She grew up in Montreal, Québec. A tenured professor in the linguistics department at the University of Montreal until 1998, she now lives in Palo Alto. Her series Stairway Stories is a collection of three full-color graphic novels: In the Montreal of my childhood, On the way to school, and The Age of Reason. The books feature two French- speaking children, Doudou and Danny, growing up in Montreal in the late 1950s. The stories and the drawings document with emotion and humor not only the Quebec culture but also the French dialect spoken in Montreal. In her latest book, Québec-California, she narrates with humor her many adventures and misadventures with the California wildlife. All her graphic novels are bilingual (French and English) flip-over books. She gives graphic memoir workshops at the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum and is currently teaching the popular graphic novel class at the Palo Alto Art Center.
Stairway Stories. In the Montreal of my childhood (August 2010) features two French-speaking children, Doudou and Danny, growing up in Montreal in the late 1950s. In those years, public schools in Montreal, like almost everywhere in Quebec, were religious. For those whose native language was French, they were usually Catholic. Boys and girls were in separate classrooms and often in different schools. However, Doudou and Danny are next-door neighbors and, even though they’re entering school, it does not prevent them from continuing to discover life side by side. And because they live in Montreal, their stories often have, as a backdrop, a stairway.
Stairway Stories. On the way to school (March 2011) is the second book of the series. In these stories, Doudou and Danny meet people and have experiences typical of Québec culture. School continues to present them with new challenges and even forces them to question their deepest beliefs.
Stairway Stories. The Age of Reason (August 2011) is the third book of the series. In those days, in Quebec, the school calendar was punctuated by the various religious holidays and celebrations. Spring doesn’t come early in Quebec. The first days of nice, warm weather often arrive only in May, when children celebrate the Month of Mary. However, this time of year is above all marked by the most important, the most anticipated, the most rehearsed event of the first year of school: First Communion. Doudou and Danny have reached the Age of Reason. Within a short period of time, they will go through Confession, First Communion and Confirmation. This series of stories portrays, with, humor the many worries and anxieties triggered by these unique events in the two children’s lives.
If you are curious about the specifics of the French dialect spoken in Quebec or about the meaning of certain religious terms, please consult the glossary at the end of the book.
The stories in Québec-California are inspired by my life in California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.