Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Book #340: Adèle and Simon by Barbara McClintock

Image from
Every day Adèle picks up her younger brother, Simon, after school. Today he is waiting with his hat, gloves, scarf, sweater, coat, knapsack, books, crayons, and a drawing of a cat he’d made that morning. Adèle takes one look and says, “Simon, please try not to lose anything today.” Then the siblings begin their walk home, stopping at all their favorite spots, saying hello to all their friends. Each time they stop, somehow Simon loses something. While talking to Madame Biscuit, the grocer, he loses his drawing. At the Jardin des Plantes he loses his books. And at the Musèe de Louvre his crayons go missing. By the time the siblings arrive home Simon has lost everything. He’s just about to explain to Mama when there’s a knock at the door…and there's Simon’s things delivered by the friends that found them.

Set in the early 1900’s in Paris, France this book not only follows the afterschool adventures of Adèle and Simon, but also provides a tour of the city. The descriptive text is peppered with Adèle’s laments about losing Simon or his things and Simon’s questions, “Adèle, have you seen my glove?” The black text is easy to read printed at the bottom against the white of the page. The detailed illustrations, which appear to be a mixture of pen and link and watercolors, depict real locations and McClintock incorporates several French artists into the scenes, such as Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, and Odilon Redon. Hidden in each illustration is the item Simon has lost on that page. Some items are easy to find, but others are more illusive amid the busy crowds of Parisians. The characters are dressed in clothing of the time and the colors of the illustrations are reminiscent of hand tinted color photographs. Notes on the historical significance of each location are included at the back of the book and the endpapers show a 1907 map of Paris with the route Adèle and Simon take marked in blue.

If you’re reading this with a small group, sit close to the kids so they can find the lost items in the illustrations. If you’re reading the book with a larger group you may need to point out the lost item. Try telling this story with a flannelboard of Simon. As he loses items remove them from the board.

Use this book as part of a storytime about older sisters that take care of their little brothers. Try pairing it with Maggie B., A Few Blocks, and Lola Reads to Leo.

It could also be used for a lost and found storytime. Good titles to pair it with include Lost and Found, Addis Berner Bear Forgets, and I Want My Hat Back.

If you can’t get enough of Adèle and Simon, look for the sequel Adèle and Simon in America. I have also heard rumors of an upcoming book about their adventures in China, but no word of if/when this book would be published.


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