Thursday, April 24, 2008

Paris, je t'aime!

My Google homepage is dialed to a live cam image of the Eiffel Tower. I loved this photo of the sunrise on Feb. 2 because it was beautiful and the bands of color look like the French flag.
The Eiffel Tower was "born" on March 31, 1889 so it just had a birthday. It is a universally recognized symbol of Paris and la belle France.

Our neighbors just got back from a spring break in Paris but I haven't seen their pictures yet so I am going to indulge my inner French major now and take a trip to Paris through children's books.

Everybody Bonjours!
by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy. Knopf, 2008.

This book (livre) est tout à fait charmant.
On the title page we see a family packing for a vacation and arriving at the airport. A little girl lets her teddy bear listen to the headphones on the plane. As they arrive at their hotel, the text begins:

When in Paris...
everybody bonjours.
From shores.
In stores.
On guided tours.
Everybody bonjours!

We follow the family down the Seine, through the Louvre, up the Tour Eiffel and down into the Metro. The story has a nice rhythm that swings along with the page turns. The book won my complete devotion though, when I arrived at the text, "batter pouring," with a picture of the family buying a crêpe sucrée from a street vendor. I will have mine , avec Grand Marnier, s'il vous plait.

Identifiable Paris landmarks are featured on each page but McMenemy has been subtle. I know our young tourist is visiting Notre Dame because of the view and the gargoyles. She watches a street musician performing with the Pompidou in the background.
Each illustration features a little mouse (shades of Goodnight Moon) which is fun to look for.

The endpapers display a map of Paris and various landmarks. There is a splendid "Out and About in Paris" at the end of the book, with thumbnail drawings and a brief description of each locale.

Anatole by Eve Titus, pictures by Paul Galdone, Knopf, originally published 1956.

Titus wrote a series of Anatole books, including Anatole and the Cat, Anatole Over Paris and Anatole and the Piano.

Anatole is a Parisian mouse who loves his wife and six children but does not want to steal food to feed them, he wants to earn it. He has the idea of providing critiques to the Duvall Cheese Factory in exchange for the cheese he takes. As a mouse, he knows cheese and his discerning palate results in more sales for the cheese company and food for Anatole's family. Paul Galdone's distinctive style and tri color scheme is still engaging and fresh.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the series, Random House has reissued the first two books in the series, both Caldecott honor books.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

The adventures of the courageous little Madeline who poo-poos the tiger at the zoo and proudly displays her appendicitis scar. This classic story, set in Paris, evokes the city in every way thanks to Bemelmans's loose and sketchy illustrations .

Honk!: The Story of a Prima Swanerina by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrated by Henry Cole, Hyperion, 2000.

When a ballet crazy swan named Mimi, sees a production of Swan Lake from the ledge of the Paris Opera House she is determined to join the corps de ballet. Mimi is undeterred by failure and when she finally makes it onstage, she is a hit! I always love reading this story and sharing photos of the actual Palais Garnier. Henry Cole depicts the famous theater from the famous grand staircase to the stage door.

Eloise in Paris
by Kay Thompson, drawings by Hilary Knight, 1957

Eloise is on her way to Paris with "Nahnee." Their preparations are classic Eloise mayhem. She embraces Paris with joie de vivre. Her favorite word is pas de quoi. Originally published in 1957, Eloise encounters Christian Dior and Yves Sain Laurent as she is measured for couture clothing. They visit the Louvre, Versailles, picnic in the Bois de Boulogne and dine at Maxim's. Hilary Knight captures Paris from the cafe awnings -- Aux Deux Magots to the Arc de Triomphe.

I loved the Franglais that flows across every page. It sounds like the way I speak French nowadays.

Il y a beaucoup de sights to see
for instance you can go to the Eiffel Tower
it is absolutely large and rawther high
so I always tie my binoculaires
to my head in this breez and go up sideways.


Anonymous said...

I loved the Anatole cartoons I used to see on Saturday morning back in the late '90s. I didn't realize they were based on books, but I should have known anything the CBC does is literary and high quality.

Girl Detective said...

Camille, my husband and just watched the DVD Paris, je t'aime last night, and it was lovely. Our family loves Anatole, and our elder son named one of his favorite cars Doucette, after Anatole's wife.

Elaine Magliaro said...


This post makes me wistful. I have never gone to Paris--maybe some day. EVERYBODY BONJOURS! sounds like a good book.

How about ADELE & SIMON? I met the author and illustrator of the book recently. I do love Barbara McClintock's picture book art.

Camille said...

Sprite, I've never seen the Anatole cartoons. How could I have missed those?

Girl D., a car named Doucette is utterly charming. I want to see that movie. I am happy to know it is on DVD now.

Elaine, Adele & Simon looks absolutely WONDERFUL!

I was trying to think of some other children's books set in Paris. There must be more. After I did this post I thought of The Happy Orpheline.

Any others?

Elaine Magliaro said...


BIJOU, BONBON & BEAU: THE KITTENS WHO DANCED FOR DEGAS is another children's book set in Paris.

Anonymous said...

Merci beaucoup, Camille (perfect French name, non?!), for the mention of "Everybody Bonjours!" It's on order at a couple of libraries in our system, so I placed a request for our kids.

They've been learning French for the past few years (I'll post some more book titles when I have a chance to think/remember), and can't wait for their first trip soon. Soon, we all hope!