La courte échelle was created almost 40 years ago, in 1978, by writer Bertrand Gauthier, who also founded les éditions Le Tamanoir. It was the first publishing company in Quebec to specialize in children’s literature, and it is one of the pioneers in this field, along with les éditions Paulines, Pierre Tisseyre and Héritage.
Influenced by Europe’s dynamic approach to young people’s literature, Gauthier wanted to “bring Quebec up to date,” and he edited original works written by authors from here, who were sensitive to issues that were relevant to Quebec readers. The catalogue very quickly included works for all age groups: albums for the very young, books for beginning readers, novels for pre-teens and teens.
Thousands of readers have devoured the books of Marie-France Hébert (Venir au monde – Welcome to the World), Marie-Louise Gay (Hou Ilva), Ginette Anfousse (Rosalie), Bertrand Gauthier (Ani Croche, Je suis Zunik), Sylvie Desrosiers (Le long silence), Denis Côté (Maxime) and Sonia Sarfati (Comme une peau de chagrin).
In 2000, the trio of Hélène Derome, Louise Mongeau and Martine Bénard took up the torch and created new graphic layouts and collections, including a Poetry collection designed for adolescents. Major works, such as Ophélie (Charlotte Gingras), Les trois lieues (Sylvie Desrosiers), Pavel (Mathieu Simard), the Léon series (Annie Groovie) and Victor Cordi (Annie Bacon), La clé à molette (Élise Gravel), and Devant ma maison (Marianne Dubuc)won prizes and awards and reached a vast public of young readers. The catalogue next added a collection of novels for adults, in particular with authors Chrystine Brouillet, Sylvain Meunier, Stanley Péan, Jean Lemieux and André Marois. During its first thirty years, La courte échelle sold almost 10 million books.
La courte échelle took a new turn in 2015 when it was purchased by Mariève Talbot and Raymond Talbot, the former owner of the Champigny bookstores. It was time to rethink the structure of that literary flagship, which thus became part of the Groupe d’édition la courte échelle. The Groupe now has a total of four divisions: La courte échelle, designed for a young readership; Les editions La Mèche, a creative laboratory; Parfum d’encre, specializing in books of a practical nature; and À l’étage, which comprises the adult part of the catalogue of La courte échelle.
With more than 25 years of experience in the book industry, Carole Tremblay was named Children’s Editor. She reorganizes collections and has given La courte échelle a solid editorial vision.
The publishing house, with more than 700 active titles to boast of, has as its mandate to offer quality contemporary Quebec literature to young readers from ages 0 to 18. It publishes stories that speak directly to children, that stimulate their imagination and that capture their attention from page one.
In 2018, La courte échelle will celebrate its 40th anniversary.