Writer Bertrand Gauthier founded la courte échelle in 1978 and it became the first publishing house in Québec to specialize exclusively in children’s literature. La courte échelle became one of the pioneers in the field, which also included Éditions Paulines, Pierre Tisseyre and Héritage.
Influenced by Europe’s dynamic approach to young peoples’ literature, Gauthier wanted to “bring Québec up to date”, and published strong original works by local authors who were sensitive to issues relevant to Québec readers. La courte échelle’s catalogue very quickly included books for all age groups, such as board books for toddlers, picture books for beginner readers, and novels for pre-teens and teens.
Thousands of readers have devoured the books by Roger Paré (L’Alphabet), Marie-Francine Hébert (Venir au monde), Marie-Louise Gay (illustrator of Hou Ilva), Ginette Anfousse (Rosalie), Bertrand Gauthier (Ani Croche and Je suis Zunik), Sylvie Desrosiers (Notdog), Denis Côté (Maxime) and Sonia Sarfati (Comme une peau de chagrin). These classics in children’s literature have spanned the decades, and many of them still feature prominently on bookstore shelves, in classrooms and in libraries across the province.
In 2000, Hélène Derome, Louise Mongeau and Martine Bénard took up the torch. They created new graphic layouts and collections, including a poetry collection for adolescents. Under their direction, major works such as Ophélie (Charlotte Gingras), Les trois lieues (Sylvie Desrosiers), Pavel (Matthieu Simard), Léon (Annie Groovie), the Victor Cordi series (Annie Bacon), La clé à molette (Elise Gravel) and Devant ma maison (Marianne Dubuc) won awards and reached a vast public of young readers. La courte échelle then added a collection of novels for adults, including authors Chrystine Brouillet, Sylvain Meunier, Stanley Péan, Jean Lemieux and André Marois, among many others. During its first 30 years, la courte échelle has sold nearly 10 million books.
La courte échelle changed its direction in 2015 when it was purchased by Mariève Talbot and former owner of Champigny bookstores, Raymond Talbot. The time had come to rethink the structure of the flagship, which became the Groupe d’édition la courte échelle. The Groupe consists of four divisions : la courte échelle, designed for young readers; La Mèche, a creative melting pot; 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.
Carole Tremblay, who has more than 25 years of experience in the book industry, became the editor. She has revamped the collections and provided la courte échelle with a solid editorial vision.
The imprint, with a collection of several hundred active titles, continues to pursue its mission that began over 40 years ago : to offer quality contemporary Québec literature to young readers aged 0 to 18.