In the early 1940s, Frédéric Back studied fine art with Mathurin Méheut. His training included everything from ceramics to murals and book illustration. The techniques he learned would prepare him for a wide range of professional assignments. When he arrived in Quebec in 1948, the publishing market was far too small for him to be able to make a living at it, and he did only a few projects in that field. Before 1952, Le Cercle du livre de France contracted him for La Caravane de Pâques by Roger Vercel and Le Navigateur by Jules Roy. From then on, most of the books he would illustrate were adaptations of works previously released in other formats.
From one adventure to the next
Ulysse et Oscar and Le Petit Âne were spin-offs from radio and television programs. Frédéric Back illustrated them out of friendship for their authors, André Cailloux and Guy Mauffette. Beluga: A Farewell to Whales was the result of his encounter with Pierre Béland, a scientific advisor on The Mighty River. Renewing his fruitful association with biologist Claude Villeneuve, who had been a consultant on the film script, Frédéric Back would go into greater depth on the topic in a beautiful and informative book by the same name.
Illustrating The Man Who Planted Trees gave Frédéric Back another chance to pay homage to Jean Giono's beloved story, while the book version of Crac! was a way to enrich the subject of the film with Ghylaine Paquin-Back's poetic text. Frédéric Back takes an enormous interest in all forms of life, and he greatly enjoyed illustrating the book Inuit: Glimpses of an Arctic Past. He took as much pleasure in helping readers discover the details of little-known cultures as he had in illustrating the mysteries of nature.
La Maison Trestler
Designated as a heritage building and a historic site, the Maison Trestler was built by Johann Joshef Tröstler, a German mercenary soldier who changed his name to Jean-Joseph Trestler...
Inuit: Glimpses of an Arctic Past
A non-fiction book built around a fictional character, it presents in eight chapters in the daily life of the Inuit. The text by David Morrison is enhanced by some thirty illustrations...
Beluga: A Farewell to Whales
Drawing on his own experience with belugas, scientist Pierre Béland tells the true story of the "white whales" of the St. Lawrence estuary. He looks at human activity on the river...
The Mighty River
"Mighty River" is the literal translation of Magtogoek, the Amerindian name for the St. Lawrence River, which flows out of the Great Lakes and into the Atlantic after...
The Man Who Planted Trees
The narrator tells us how, walking one day in Haute-Provence, he met Elzéard Bouffier, a solitary, taciturn old shepherd who was reforesting a desolate landscape...
The story of a family's rocking chair, a fixture of Quebec homes for generations, becomes the story of a changing society. As the farmer who carved it gradually ages, the rocker moves...
Ulysse et Oscar
The adventures of the explorer Mr. Ulysse, Oscar the lion and the little mouse Hortense were featured on Radio-Canada television before being published in book form.
Le Petit Âne
Recounting the fantastic journey of a little donkey who carries his burden beyond the clouds and out into the universe, Le Petit Âne is a poem that can be understood on two levels.
A popular novel written in 1864, L'Ami Fritz is a lively portrait of 19th century Alsatian bourgeois society seen through the love story of Fritz, a confirmed bachelor, and Süzel...
Bertrand du Guesclin
Frédéric Back did 90 drawings to illustrate this novelized account of the life of Bertrand du Guesclin (1320-1380), a minor seigneur from Brittany who became a French national hero.