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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Nicolette and the Mill
by Rene Guillot
Age Range: 9-11
One dark stormy night Nicolette becomes lost on the marshes as she makes her way home. She ends up at the house of an old sorcerer, Cesaire, who has an ill reputation and is guarded by two enormous fearsome dogs. However, instead of being unpleasant he proves friendly and accommodating giving Nicolette instructions of how to get home. He also gives her a present of a magic silver ring with a large green emerald stone, known as a Melusine stone. The ring has a special power which allows Nicolette to be able to understand the language of animals, the Sauvette stream and her father’s mill.
The Sauvette turns the millwheel and when Nicolette gets back home and puts the ring on she is able to listen to what Sauvette and the millwheel are saying to each other. While Sauvette has travelled to many places and turned many other mills, the millwheel is old, creaks all the time and is bored and tired of turning round and round. When the mill listens to Sauvette’s adventures it makes it want to run away and to travel further afield.
French author Renč Guillot (1900-1969) was a master of the adventure genre but this short story is a departure from the usual animal, adventure novels set in Africa that he is better known for. Charles Mozley’s black and white illustrations are perfectly in line with the story and it represents the characters and the locations as described by the author. Other Guillot titles on the website include: Elephant Road (1959); Mokokambo, the Lost Land (1961), Balloon Journey (1964) and Tipiti, the Robin (1968)