French beach-reads for all the family – Books and Places Part 3

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.

PICTURE BOOKS

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.

The Cat who walked across France by Kate Banks – see review here.

 

CHAPTER BOOKS/MIDDLE GRADE

Little Bo in France by Julie Andrew (ages 6-10 )– see review here.

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.

 

YA

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.

 

ADULT

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

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11 Responses to French beach-reads for all the family – Books and Places Part 3

  1. Books books books! Ahhh. so many of them, too little time for us bibliophiles. I just love to read everything that you’ve just posted here. They all sound so fabulous!!! I’ve had the Alex Ryder series for the longest time but haven’t had a chance to open even one of them.

    I am however, intrigued by your description of Peter Mayle, the YA fiction Anna and the french Kiss, and I have a feeling I’d love Miroslav Saslek. Great selections, Joanna! Another fantabulous post from you.

    • Joanna says:

      Myra, you have to dig out the Horowitz, I’ve read every Alex Ryder there is. I used to fight with middles school boys over whose turn it was with them! One of them once asked me if I had to read them for the job (when I was librarian)!!

      I did think of you with my Czech choice 🙂

  2. What a delightful post, with something for everyone! Such wide-ranging selections, as well. Of course, the Eloise book holds particular appeal (for some reason, I can hear her speaking in Sofia Vassilieva’s voice!). From your description, I think I might gain weight just reading A Year in Provence. (I read French Women Don’t Get Fat, and although I enjoyed the book very much, it didn’t work for weight loss!)

    Your posts about France are so wonderfully evocative and intriguing — one gets a far richer picture of the country than any tourbook could give. Thank you!

    • Joanna says:

      Thank you, Beth. It is fun to try and think of books for an entire family age rage. Basically Mayle and his wife left dull UK jobs, acquired an old farmhouse in Provence, and Peter started to write his first novel in the midst of bucolic countryside, gourmet food and drink, and interesting local people. It really is a witty read.

      So right, I can no longer think of Eloise without picturing Sofia Vassileva’s outstanding performance. Shame she is too old to do more. Two was not enough! Though Julie would no doubt still be up to playing Nanny.

  3. Patricia Tilton says:

    Love the variety of books you reviewed for all ages. My hope is they are in English? I see the novels are and they both sound intriguing. Especially A Year in Provence. But, like the Eloise book and the YA romance novel written by a 16-year-old. What a lovely way to get to know your country through books.

    After tonight’s Hub interview with Tor Seidler, you are sitting on a gold mine of material. You don’t have to research on the itnernet — you can go visit.

    • Joanna says:

      Pat, yes these are all recommendations for anglophones, so in English. Hope to get the chance to listen to the replay of Seidler’s interview later today.

  4. Diane says:

    Now Joanna, if I was heading off to France I would definately pack in my bag “A Year in Providence” and “secret Life In France” for the plane journey so I can get prepared, and “Anna and the FRench Kiss” for when I get to your place and then I can lounge on your terrace with a glass of wine and indulge. Oooooh Bliss.
    Like everyone has said these are indeed a lovely variety. Thankyou for sharing, and wetting my appetite.

    • Joanna says:

      The thing is, Diane, if you were coming to France you would surely be coming here and could borrow most of these books directly from my shelf 😉

  5. Diane says:

    I will keep that in mind then……lol.

  6. liblaura5 says:

    Fabulous list!
    Thank you for including the link back to your earlier post on Little Bo – totally new to me, and it sounds perfect for a young cat lover I know! 🙂

    • Joanna says:

      Laura, thanks for dropping in. I highly recommend reading the entire Little Bo series as the story continuation is real fun. I can’t wait for Book 4 the final one in the series to come out.

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