François Gravel was born in 1951 in Montréal. He studied Economics at the Université du Québec in Montréal and worked as teacher at a college. He originally wrote novels for adults, before making his literary début as an author of literature for children and young adults in 1989 with »Corneilles« (Eng. »My Life as a Crow«, 1993). Since that time Gravel has produced more than 50 well received stories, novels, books for first readers and picture books.
With an impressive capacity for empathy, François Gravel authentically and succinctly traces not only the daily reality of his young readers, but also their fears, dreams and desires. His stories – in which the characters meet fearsome clowns and giant insects, fight against ominous powers and board magical machines – are exciting, fantastical and humorous. Talking of his motivation to effectively fuse an intelligent storyline with suspense and the description of the emotional realm, he comments: »Right from the start I’ve followed a clear goal: to provide children with inspiration to read, and particularly to incite boys’ interest in reading.« In his children’s book series »Klonk« (1993ff) the writer follows the ingenious scientist of the same name and his friend Fred, an author, on their adventures. In »Klonk contre Klonk« (2004; t: Klonk against Klonk) the action is set on the ocean floor, where the protagonists are faced with a sinister doppelganger.The »Courrier de St. Hyacinthe« judged it »an enjoyable mix of the Jules Vernes novels, the adventures of Tintin and secret missions à la James Bond.« »La Piste sauvage« (t: The wild track) was published in 2002, the first part of the »Sauvage« series (2002ff). For Steve Charbonneau, whose interests are in cars and girls, reading causes words to blur into endless streets, which take him through the plains of the American continent. When his teacher persuades him to read a car magazine his life changes in a nightmarish direction. From this point on he challenges illegal car races, for which a sinister policeman is recruiting courageous boys as »kamikaze pilots«. François Gravel takes his readers on a fast-paced adventure, flitting between fact and fiction, while being a ratification for reading at the same time. Gravel was accepted into the IBBY Honour List (2002) for the story »David et la Fantôme« (2000; t: David and the phantom), which was the first part of the award winning »David« series (2000ff). Young David is not only afraid of thunderstorms and monsters, but also of the savagely angry dog that he encounters every Saturday, and of whose existence the adults seem unaware. With great flair the author recreates the universe of children’s fears, which subtly oscillate between reality and fantasy, and which David always manages to conquer through impressive ingenuity.
François Gravel’s work has been honoured on numerous occasions, including Mr. Christie’s Book Award (1990/2000) and the Prix Livromagie. He received the Governor General’s Award (1991) for his delicately composed novel for adolescent readers, »Deux heures et demie avant Jasmine« (1991; Eng. »Waiting for Jasmine«, 1993). In 2006, the latest volume of the »David« series, »David et le salon funéraire« (2005; t: David and the mortuary) was awarded the TD prize for Canadian children’s and youth literature.
The author has two grown-up children and lives with his wife in Outremont in the Canadian province of Québec.
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