Are you trying to diversify your French bookshelf? If you teach grade 7 and/or grade 8 immersion in Ontario and you haven't heard of Case mensonge yet, this post is for you! 

Extended French teachers, this can also work for your students, with more guided work done together.

The Author

Gisèle Pineau is a Black francophone female author. She is French, as in lived a lot of her life in France, but her roots are in Guadeloupe. She has spent a considerable amount of time living in both places. Ms Pineau turned to writing as a way to bridge her two cultures. 

The Novel

The novel is under 100 pages long and takes place in Roucou, a shantytown of Guadeloupe. One thing I love about this novel is that the story is engaging for intermediate students. They may originally judge the book by its cover, quite literally, but ultimately, they'll be hooked. In my experience, it's rare for French Immersion students to agree that a book is "really good!" - but mine did! Although there is some creole used in it, often footnooted to aid with understanding, it's written quite simply, which is great for our French language learners. By this, I mean lots of present tense, passé composé and imparfait - verb tenses our learners will be comfortable recognizing.

Another thing I like about it is that it's an #OwnVoices novel. Pineau is sharing her culture and experience with us, the reader, and some students who have been formerly underrepresented in our classes may appreciate that the main character is a young Black girl. It's not a totally uplifting, positive story, I'm sorry to say - but that is part of what makes it an interesting story. Of course, another advantage to this novel is how it ties into both the Grade 7 French curriculum (the cultural expectations) and the Grade 8 Geography curriculum so nicely - that makes it a wonderful option for a split grade-level class!


Sadly, it seems that this novel is currently less available than it was when I used it in my class and made some materials with "Big Idea" inquiry questions, character exploration, vocabulary work, and questions available to help teachers to leverage the novel with increased learning opportunities. You can however still find listings for Case mensonge from the Babelio site here. Also, I encourage you to check your bookshelves!  Maybe you already HAVE a copy that you just haven't used with the whole class yet. Also, who knows, maybe if we pester Bayard Jeunesse enough, they'll release a digital version of the book, or another reprint.

In my TPT listing for the resources I have available to support using this novel in class, I offer to email the first page of the Teacher Notes for free, as a "Content Advisory." I don't want to make it available as a readily downloadable freebie for fear that students may find it, and it does contain spoilers. 

Case mensonge resource cover by Teaching FSL


Here's another free resource to help you out in your French immersion or Extended French classroom with one of the inquiry areas (the culture of Guadeloupe or the Antilles) that this novel presents the opportunity to explore: a handout on some typical Guadeloupian food. Students have the chance to research several options shown and then to complete the last page themselves.

Incidentally, there's another novel by Gisele Pineau that a colleague and I wanted to get our hands on a few years back, but it wasn't readily available at the time. So if you're in my professional circle, and you'd like to loan me your copy of  Le papillon dans la Cité, I'd still love to read it someday!