Où est passé Martin ?

Book Title Où est passé Martin ? (Where Is Martin)
Author(s) Lisa Ray Turner & Blaine Ray
Illustrator(s) Laia Amela Albarran
Other Contributors Dona Tatum-Johns & Monique Gregory
Published by TPRS Books (view our statement on TPRS Books)
Genre Realistic Fiction, Adventures
Publication date 2017
#Ownvoices N/A
From the author/publisher’s website
Level Level 2

Total Word Count 8,600

Illustrations                    YES 
Glossary                          YES  
Guiding Questions       NO  
Context                            NO  
Other                                N/A

Races, Ethnicities, and Nationalities
Catherine, her mother: Americans. 
Martin’s grandparents: from Guadeloupe.
Martin and Martin’s mother: from Guadeloupe, living in the USA. There is no mention of their races. 

Languages spoken
French, some Creole, some mention of  English

Sex and Genders
Male – Martin, Female – Catherine

Child, Teenage, Adult, Senior

Social classes
Sexual Orientation



Family Structures
Single family

Body Type
Non-curvy, Curvy

From the author/publisher’s website 

Summer vacation is beginning for 17-year-old Catherine Banks and she is looking forward to spending a lot of time with her friends. However- her mother has promised a friend that Catherine will accompany the friend’s 7-year-old son Martin to the Caribbean nation of Guadeloupe to visit his grandparents. Despite her extreme misgivings- Catherine gives in and decides to go. As soon as Catherine and Martin get seated on the plane- the problems start. When they arrive in Guadeloupe- one crisis follows another. The novel contains a lot of interesting cultural material and is excellent for middle of the second year of high school French students (or later).

To what extent do the illustrations present positive and thoughtful representations of identities?

Catherine, the main character, has a curvy body type and provides a positive body image for teenage girls.

This book is not intended to focus on representations and identities. Catherine is American and her race is not mentioned. She has brown long and straight hair with brown eyes and has a brown-light skin color. The illustration of Martin does not corroborate his descriptions in the book. Indeed, the cover jacket which is in color shows that Martin has light-brown hair with brown eyes but the book describes him as blond with blue eyes.

Because of this color-evasiveness, there is a missed opportunity to represent Guadeloupe as a  multicultural island.
We understand identities are complex and no single story represents the spectrum of identity-based experiences. Also, a text may address a stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization without relying on it.

Does any stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization affect any positive and thoughtful representations of identities in the text?


This section is for teachers who are working towards sourcing more texts within the four domains of anti-bias education. We are excited about reading all books and we understand that not all books are written for this specific purpose. 

Does this text work toward goals within any of the four domains of anti-bias education as defined by Teaching Tolerance


The description on the TPRS Books website mentions that “the novel contains a lot of interesting cultural material.’’ However, in Où est passé Martin ?, the cultural products and practices are limited to a few touristic spots, some of Guadeloupe natural resources, and the mention of the Creole language.    

The story shows Catherine growing progressively fond of a little boy, Martin, whom she was forced to accompany to Guadeloupe. Watching the relationship evolve is quite endearing. The illustrations present Catherine as a girl with a curvy body, which provides a positive body image for teenage girls. Furthermore, the story is told in the past tense with lots of dialogues in the present tense, which allows students to be exposed to a variety of tenses and structures.

The story mostly takes place in the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe which is legally considered as a French department. Guadeloupe is actually a ‘’DROM’’ or ‘’département et régions d’outre-mer’’ which can be translated to Overseas department and region. Guadeloupe’s history is mired in colonialism and slavery. Instead of showing Guadeloupe in its ethnic and linguistic diversity, this book emphasizes the idea that Guadeloupe is different (p. 38) from the U.S without explaining these differences. As soon as Catherine sets foot on the island, she is surprised (elle était très surprise, p. 38) by the heat and smells (‘’les odeurs,’’ p. 38). We don’t know if these odors are fruity, savory, pungent or fetid. Guadeloupe is reduced to an exotic Other that Catherine discovers while reading a brochure about beaches, rivers, volcano, the Zoo Garden, Parc des Orchidées, bananeries, and coffee and cacao plantations (p. 40). Nothing is said about the numerous historical sites that unravel Guadeloupe’s ethnic diversity and multiculturalism. 

Also, as an American citizen who is learning French at school, Catherine is not only wary of the French spoken in Guadeloupe which is different than the French spoken by her teacher (p.47) but also by the fact that Guadeloupeans translanguage by using many Creole expressions when they speak French (p.60). Her lack of cultural awareness is concomitant with the lack of historical perspectives in the book. Catherine is even upset that the passengers in the bus only speak French and Creole. She wants to go back to her country but she is stuck in ‘’another planet’’ (p. 60). She continuously expresses negative judgements about the ways of life of and being in Guadeloupe while presupposing the superiority of the U.S which is envisioned as a monolingual country. 

Catherine is presented as a judgmental and biased teenager who cannot fathom life in Guadeloupe beyond its tourist attractions. She accepts the ride of a taxi driver who wants to be her ‘’friend’’ (p.49) and whom she decides to trust based on his handsomeness. Once she starts being suspicious about the driver, she realizes that he is taking her in a ‘’strange’’ place (p.52) which is unsafe based on the ‘’appearance’’ of the buildings (p. 52). It is noteworthy to mention that this taxi driver speaks English even though Catherine finds his English far from being ‘’perfect’’ (49). 

Catherine performs all the stereotypes associated with Western tourists who scrutinize non-Western countries with an ethnocentric ‘’white gaze.’’ There is no insight into the complexities and everyday lived experiences of Guadeloupeans who have a passive role in this book. Guadeloupe is merely used as a pretext to transform Catherine from an egocentric teenager to someone who is looking forward to spending time with Martin and his grandparents, at the very end of the story (p.76).

View our statement on TPRS Books

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