Going on vacation to France with the kids this summer? What better occasion than to take some reading matter for the beach pertaining to the nation. Here are a few of my suggestions for all members of the family.
A Spree in Paree by Catherine Stock – The farmer, Monsieur Monmouton, wants to visit Paris very much, but has no one to look after his animals. The solution? He piles all of them into his old truck and sets off for the capital.. What an adventure! The sheep want to check out fashion at Faubourg Saint-Honore , the geese set off for a boat ride on the Seine., the goats head for the Luxembourg Gardens, while the cows are content to visit the Louvre.
Eloise in Paris by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight. From the frenetic packing, passport photos and farewells to Eloise’s eccentric and exhausting romp (with Skiperdee the turtle) to all the famous places/people of Paris, will have all Eloise fans be in Paradis! The vacation includes moments such as a dress made for Eloise by Dior and dinner at Maxim’s and some fun French phrases by our precocious six year old.
CHAPTER BOOKS/MIDDLE GRADE
This is Paris by Miroslav Saslek. (ages 6-10)This book from the Czech author/illustrator, Saslek, is over 50 years old but still as endearing to children today as to their grandparents. Slightly dated, but entirely charming illustrations of: gendarmes, the metro, artists, cafés, cats, parks… This works as a delightful Parisian guidebook for the young.
Nicolas by René Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempé (ages 7-10). This is an old French classic published in 1959 and translated into English. It is full of jokes, silliness and the escapades of a typical little French schoolboy and his classmates. Nicolas gets into ridiculous trouble in the most unlikely situations. I added this because it has a timeless French feel about it.
Postcards from France by Megan McNeill. (age 13+) This is a very successful book written by a highschooler. A 16 year old American student spends her summer in Valence, half way down the Rhône valley. This is a candid and mature reflection on the ups and downs of being an exchange student in France, typically linguistically ill-prepared for the experience.
Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz. (ages 10-16) I love this series by Horowitz, but it is really more one for the boys. If you haven’t already encountered him, Alex Ryder is a teen James Bond, who works undercover for MI6 and is just as dashing and ingenious in his counter espionage as 007! This one is set in the south of France and would be a great summer read for a reluctant reader as it is full of pace, cliffhanger tension and a smidgeon of romance!
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (age 14+) A recent book which has been storming the YA market. A very credible teen romance – Anna reluctantly spends her senior year at a Parisian boarding school. Cool plot, great characters and an evocative portrayal of Paris and the French which would, I think, inspire teens visiting the city.
Anything by Peter Mayle, but if you have to start somewhere, “A Year in Provence”. If I were to recommend a lighthearted autobiographical romp through the delights of a foreigner’s life in Provence, it would be this book and its’ sequels – especially if you have a penchant for French gastronomy and beverages. He sensually describes meal after meal and course after course, both in 4* restaurants and farmers’ kitchens; local markets and truffle hunting, in his beloved region, the Luberon.
The Secret Life in France by Lucy Wadham – a witty, juicy, provocative and insightful look at the French, covering all possible taboo subjects and more. Written after 20 years in Paris, married to a Frenchman and raising her children there, Wadham offers a sharp memoir on France, for all Anglo-Saxon Francophiles.
This includes books # 65-67 in the Read to me Picture Book Challenge