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Paul Has A Summer Job    by Michel Rabagliati order for
Paul Has A Summer Job
by Michel Rabagliati
Order:  USA  Can
Raincoast, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I have been intrigued by graphic novels for a while, since reading one of The Hobbit and, more recently, Persepolis. While Paul Has A Summer Job is not as good as either of those, it does an effective job of communicating a 1970s coming of age story in Quebec, Canada. Paul is a teenager who quit high school in frustration. His job at a print shop does not last long, but it's very funny for the reader while it does, as Paul copes unsuccessfully with 'da clotch', as well as confusing coffee break and lunch orders.

The author presents himself as a fairly unlikeable teen, in his treatment of parents and the family pet, and there's a bizarre scene with a neighbor. Then Paul is offered an alternate job, as a leader at a summer camp for underprivileged kids, and it's a pivotal event in his life. He's afraid of the outdoors and its wildlife, petrified in his attempts at rock climbing (which he has to learn in order to teach the kids) and intimidated by the first batch of boys, who push the limits. And he gets off on the wrong foot with his attractive partner, Annie.

But this all changes as Paul ('Eyebrows') learns to lighten up with his charges and peers. He begins to appreciate his own family and upbringing, and he and Annie become close. Then a new set of campers includes little blind Marie who has a tremendously positive attitude; she and Paul develop a special rapport. Years later, Paul ends up back in the same area with his own little daughter Alice, and completes a circle, involving The Little Prince, a good luck charm, and a special star.

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