I'm thrilled to be pairing up with Random House Kids once again to share a beautiful picture book, and give away a copy of the book to a lucky reader/commenter!
This time three years ago, my husband and I were living in Paris for the summer while he attended cooking school. There is something about Parisian culture that I fell in love with immediately. I love children's books that celebrate Paris in ways that incorporate such a vibrant city into a creative story, and Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall's The Mighty Lalouche does just that.
The Might Lalouche is about Paris, yes, but it the story centers around an interesting turn-of-the-century sport, la boxe francaise, or French Boxing.
Lalouche is a postman who loses his job when the postal service decides to use cars rather than workers on foot, and Lalouche needs an income to support himself and his companion, a finch named Genevieve. He finds luck in French boxing, where agility and speed are more important than brute strength, and he defeats opponents like the Piston, the Greque, and the Anaconda.
It seems apropos to celebrate The Mighty Lalouche on Bastille Day. As Lalouche says during his big fight against The Anaconda: "For country, mail, and Genevieve!" Lalouche's boxing career is short, as the technology of cars isn't quite as convenient as the postal service had hoped. Lalouche returns to his position as a mail man, but ends up with a much nicer home for himself and Genevieve: an apartment with a view of the Seine.
Never underestimate a man who loves his finch.
The Mighty Lalouche is a book with implications for discussing illustration, France, the French language, history, sports, and much more. Looking at Sophie Blackall's illustrations and photographs of French boxers in the late 19th century offers a glimpse at her research. To bring the illustrations to life, Blackall used tatebanko, a Japanese paper diorama technique that adds depth to the paintings. Lalouche took two years to make as a result of this intricate technique, but the story is richer as a result. Blackall shares some images on her blog:
The Mighty Lalouche would be an inspirational addition to any home or classroom library. I have one copy to give away, courtesy of Random House Kids. Enter to win by leaving a comment on this post before midnight on Sunday, July 21st. I'll choose a winner at random and announce on Monday, July 22nd!
And, for additional French fun, I recommend dancing around to Yelle while you think about what you'll write in your comment.
Good Luck, and Happy Bastille Day!