Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Adele and Simon
A friend recently gave me a copy of Adele and Simon by Barbara McClintock. This book is set in Paris and the illustrations are charming. It tells the story of Adele and her little brother Simon meandering through the city on their way home. At the start of the story Simon has: his hat, gloves, scarf and sweater, his coat, knapsack, books and crayons, and a drawing of a cat. Adele tells him, "Simon, please try not to lose anything today." But over the course of the story Simon loses everything - one page at a time.
The text is very simple and the illustrations are very detailed. They are done in a vintage style with the end pages containing maps from a 1907 Baedeker map. The illustrations are each of a specific place in Paris and at the end of the book it describes the location and tells more about it. Also on the map are numbers that correlate with the locations that Adele and Simon visit so you can see where their route takes them on the map.
I think this book is a great exercise in learning to "read" the illustrations. It is not like a typical seek-and-find with millions of items on a page with the reader's assignment being to track down the few items amidst the chaos. Those books are fun in their own right - but this is a book with beautiful and detailed illustrations - that stand alone. However on each page, when Simon loses an item the reader can find it hidden in the illustration.
This book is wonderfully detailed and my kids and I loved looking through the pictures and searching for Simon's (which we pronounce See - moan - it sounds so much more French than Sigh -mon) lost items. Also if you have a free moment you should check out Barbara McClintock's website - it is very vintage and fun. I especially loved reading about how she became an illustrator - she looked up Maurice Sendak's phone number in the phone book and called him for advice!