Wells, R. (2006). The Miraculous Tale of Two Maries. New York: Viking.
Through first person narrative, Wells retells the legend of the two saints named Marie who did good deeds in the town in France that is named for them.
Best friends, Marie and Marie are swept away in their boat during a storm. After dying at sea, they ask God for a second chance to live, promising to do good deeds if they can return. Seizing the opportunity, the girls paddle their boat through the air, helping those who live in the town.
While this book does a good job of giving readers a window into traditional French culture, the text does assume a Christian worldview, with God entering the text as a character.
A teacher could ask students to pick and research other legends or historical stories connected to specific cities.
A teacher could also guide students to look more closely at the legend of the Maries, by having them look at alternate versions of the tale, perhaps with the hope of having older student write their own interpretation.
This picturebook could be used in a history or French class to help add some variety or fun to the course.
An ideal option would be to share this story before actually taking a class trip to France, to see Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Quotes of Note:
"If you ever go to France, into the sunny south where the horses run wild in the lavender, you will find the tiny town called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Inside the town church is a wooden boat, and in the boat are two wooden ladies[[one in a rose dress and one in blue. Both are called Marie."
"Marie and I were local girls.
We were best friends, and w both shared the name Marie. We knew everyone in our little town."
"An incoming storm tide flooded us suddenly.
Waves tossed our boat far under the sea and then suddenly up again, right up to Heaven. We were only sixteen, Marie and I."
"Another chance!" said God. "Nobody gets another chance! Particularly if they disobeyed their parents!"
"If we promise to live a life of good deeds? If we cross our hearts and hope to die?" wheedled Marie. "Could we just see our families for five minutes more?"