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Rationale - Re-telling - Translation - Activities - Reflection

Country:  Luxembourg
Languages: Luxembourgish , German, French (also published in Luxembougish, Portuguese, English)
Title: D'Grissette an D'Choupette um motorrad , (Grisette and Choupette on the motor cycle)
Author: Theis A. & Ries M.
Publisher: Joseph Beffort (1995)
ISBN: 2-919870-00-9
Chosen by:  Romain Sahr
Lecturer in German studies, Institut Supérieur d'Etudes et de Recherches Pédagogiques, Walferdange, Luxembourg.

Rationale for choosing the book:
This book has been chosen because it reflects the complex language situation in Luxembourg. In D'Grissette an D'Choupette um motorrad the story is told in three languages which are spoken as the 'mother tongue' in day nurseries, for very young children, or in the kindergarten: Luxembourgish/German/French, or Luxembourgish/French/Portuguese! This is so that all the teachers can read the same story. In 1995 the publishers produced three books of this kind which were very popular with children between the ages of 4 and 7.

Grisette and Choupette, two mischievous mice, steal a 'forbidden' motor cycle. First of all they just sit on it and play about with the switches. but then they get more adventurous and decide to ride it through Gustave's farmyard. Together they go past the surprised horses, through the duck-pond - splashing everything in sight - and finally down the steep slope towards the village. They go so fast that they begin to get frightened and don't see a tree root in their way and . Crash! The race is over and the two friends land up in a heap. Farmer Gustave decides not to scold them but to bandage their wounds. They promise him that, in future, they will not take anything without asking. To make sure of this, Gustave keeps them under tight control and rides the motor cycle himself, forcing the mice to become rather uncomfortable passengers!

It was a beautiful afternoon during summer.
The two mice, who lived on the farm of Gustave, felt bored.
The older one was called Grisette and the younger, Choupette.
The were living in the barn near a big heap of wood piled up for the winter.
The only thing they were interested in, on this sunny Sunday, was the old red motor cycle.
It could take them to the country to their friends Ninette, Annette and Laurette.
The farmer had often forbidden them to touch his motor cycle.
However, when they saw Gustave leaving for a drive with in his barouche (p. 3/4), they decided to carry out their plan to test this beautiful machine.
Without losing any time, they climbed onto the biggest wheel and began to examine the impressive vehicle.
Grisette tested all the buttons and, suddenly, the motor was growling very loudly.
Frightened Choupette slipped and fell on the pedal, making the motor cycle move.
The two mischievous mice were scared but ready for anything.
What a pleasure to be carried away by this wonderful racing machine.
They were shouting with joy.
In spite of everything, they arrived at the farmyard.
The horse in his stable was amazed and the dog in his kennel barked furiously.
The hens and ducks, who were pecking quietly at their grains of corn, just found enough time to run away.
The motor cycle was now going at full speed.
The mice were driving so quickly that they couldn't avoid a large puddle and splashed the white goose who was going for a walk.
At the gates of the farm they became dizzy when they saw the steepness of the slope down to the village. So quickly, perhaps a little too quickly...
Too Late!
The motor cycle took off and went so quickly that the little mice could hardly hold on.
They didn't even have time to say 'Hello' to Pitou, the hare, who was sitting on the edge of the path nibbling carrots.
Grissette and Choupette didn't know how to stop the machine and they were very afraid.
The motor cycle lightly touched a large tree root and couldn't avoid an enormous rock that was in the way.
Finally, the race was over!
But the two mice were not in such good form any more.
Grisette's ear was twisted and Choupette's tail was bleeding.
Gustave found them like that when he came back from his journey.
He was very surprised to see his motor cycle lying in the road completely useless.
But he understood what had happened when he saw the two suffering mice.
He was very angry, but instead of grumbling, he decided to show some pity and took them back to the farm to tend their wounds.
On the way back, the two mice began to apologise to the farmer.
They promised him that they would never take away anything again without asking for his permission.
At home, Gustave bandaged Grissette's head and tightly bound Choupette's tail.
Grisette and Choupette became Gustave's best friends and he took them to revisit their friends in the country...
... on this old and wonderful red motor cycle.

NB This is a working translation for educational purpose only.

Activities for use in school:
1. Listen to the CD in Luxembourgish whilst looking at the illustrations. Does this language resemble any others on the CDs? Discuss with your children why so many languages are spoken in Luxembourg which is a very small country. (Refer to map and discuss the French and German influence as well as the Portuguese (through immigration) and English). What might be the advantages and disadvantages of working in so many languages? Try to find as many ways as possible for expressing one phrase eg 'Hello' or 'Good Morning' in French, German, Portuguese, Spanish etc. and make mobiles for each one to hang around the classroom.
2. Get the children to look carefully at the first page of the text. The highlighted language is Luxembourgish, the national language of Luxembourg. Are there any words that resemble English? What are the similarities and differences between the three written languages? You might like to check in the dictionary for the etymology of some of these words [usually indicated after the reference in square brackets]. Summer, for example, comes from Old English, has a Germanic root, and is suffixed by [E] in the dictionary. 
3. If your children are leaning French or German in school or at home, they might like to write a another cartoon adventure of the two mice, with brief captions in the language they are learning.

Reflection: Consider Luxembourg's physical position within Europe and how this might affect both its language and culture. How does this compare with your own?

NB Further literature and language-based activities can be found in
Picture Books sans Frontières
available from or

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ncrcl January 2005