Au ventre du monde

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A red ink drawing that looks like an ancient totem on a pale blue background.
Title in English: 
At the world's womb
Gilles Barraqué
Place of publication: 
L'Ecole des loisirs
Year of publication: 
288 p.
22 x 15 cm

This tale takes place in ancient times on an unnamed archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Paohétama, a twelve-year-old girl, lives on "Our Earth" with her grandfather, a fisherman of mother-of-pearl. The grandfather is getting old and he wants to pass on his knowledge to his granddaughter. But girls are not allowed to fish... The only way to lift this taboo is to turn Paohémata into a "girl-boy". Her hair is shaved; she is allowed to swim with the boys... And to fish! She becomes a very good fisherman. One day, she decides to find some answers about her parents who were both taken by the ocean, and at the same time settle the score with the shark-god. She sails off alone in her tiny boat in search of the powerful black pearl: the legend says that it is hidden in the womb of the world…
We feel close to Paohémata as we fight the ocean with her; we share her thoughts and dreams. This very poetic and attractive novel takes us to a different dimension of space and time. This very rich novel deals with issues such as courage, xenophobia, love, wisdom and the search for who we are. It can be read quickly, but remains with the reader for a long time.