February 9, 2016


I'm so, so excited for this week's theme: Paris. This post was inspired by my recent trip to the American Library Association's annual midwinter conference in Boston, during which I found, fell in love with, and acquired Thames & Hudson's upcoming picturebook Paris: Up, Up, and Away. Written and illustrated by Hélène Druvert, the book follows the Eiffel Tower, who becomes bored one day and decides to take an adventure through Paris to explore the many wonders of the city. The the black, white, and lavender-gray illustrations are beautifully simple in design and the text is perfectly sparse, but it's the paper cutouts that make this book unforgettable. There is a paper cutout between each spread of the book, often framing potions of text to emphasize the negative space. The cutouts themselves are unparalleled in beauty and intricacy: every window has a frame, cutouts of the river have waves, every dress and shoe has a distinct pattern. The book is highly interactive as well, inviting readers to locate the Eiffel tower in each spread, sometimes in the cutouts, sometimes in the illustrations. And as if intricate cutouts and beautiful illustrations weren't enough, the endpapers are perfect, inviting you in and then taking you back out (but making you want to come back for more).

Have a look:

Small section of the department store--look at that detail!
Greg Pizzoli's The Impossible True Story of Trick Vic: The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower also takes readers on an adventure through Paris, but this time through the eyes of the real-life famous con man Robert Miller. The illustrations in this book are not only well-designed, they're very clever. Robert's face is always shown to be a thumbprint, perfectly enhancing the mystery that surrounds our protagonist. Although the book is a little wordier than I generally like, I enjoyed learning about how Miller conned his way to infamy and came to be known as "the man who sold the Eiffel Tower." There are even little "history lessons" on some of the spreads, giving context to the story, like who Al Capone was, what Prohibition was, even the what the 10 Commandments for Con-Artists are. Well-designed and informative, it makes for a great read.

Alemagna's A Lion in Paris tells the fantastical story of the lion statue in the Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris. Alemagna creates the story of a giant lion who comes to Paris in search of a job, love, and a future. As he travels throughout the city, getting to know the culture and people he falls in love and decides to stay, thus transforming into the statue. The design of the book in general is interesting, as it opens vertically. Each spread features sparse, dark red text on the top/verso pages and mixed media illustrations on the bottom/recto pages, with the notable exception of the Eiffel Tower spread. My only complaint, if I were to make one (which I am), is the endpapers--I'm not entirely sure what the designers were trying to accomplish, but there's only one of a map, and it shares its spread with the title page. There's nothing in the back save for white paper. I would love to have seen more of the map of Paris, or even photos of the actual statue. But alas...

See you next time!

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