White Ravens: France
France (French) - 1993 - 106
La monde marveilleux des insectes
(The Wonderful World of Insects)
Toulouse: Milan, 1992. 65 p. With photos
A nonfiction picture book which familiarizes children with the thrilling and bizarre world of insects like no other book. Not only the extraordinarily beautiful and clear photographs, but also the arrangement in the individual chapters capture one's attention: how insects move and propagate, feed and defend themselves, communicate with each other etc. and the manner in which these needs can be satisfied. The diversity of solutions and the ingenuity of nature is simply fascinating. The relatively brief text calls attention to peculiarities. The book concludes with comprehensive suggestions about how children can discover the world of insects and which ones they can capture and breed in addition to a section about the usefulness of insects and the dangers of modern insecticide procedures. (10+)
France (French) - 1993 - 107
(The Infinitely Small)
Paris: Hachette, 1992. 46 p. With photos
(Las frontierès de l'invisible)
natural science - microscope - magnification
In the picture it looks like an impenetrable jungle or an eerie entrance to a hidden grotto, in reality it is well-groomed dog hair and a pore on the palm of a hand. Under the microscope, sugar crystals become metal bars, a minute crab in a flake of dust, a threatening monster. Stimulating pictures open up new worlds, revealing hidden aspects of daily phenomena. The accompanying text is well-structured: scientific explanations alternate with anecdotes - allegedly containing some errors. Nevertheless an attractive and gripping nonfiction picture book. Yet to appear in the same series: The Infinitely Concealed and The Infinitely Rapid, The Infinitely Distant has already been published. (10+)
(Prix Totem du Salon du Livre de Montreuil 1992)
France (French) - 1993 - 108
La fils du concierge de l'opéra
(The Son of the Opera House Janitor)
Paris: Gallimard, 1991. 156 p.
fantastic narrative - father/son - first love - opera
The 5-year-old son of the opera house janitor gradually becomes aware of his environment: a maze of passageways, halls and staircases which appear to have no exit. The father raises his son in such a way as is seemly for a successor to his position; i.e., every morning the child has to watch a performance - as the only spectator; the whole production is apparently performed solely for his benefit. His off-and-on relationship with the somewhat older daughter of the boxes doorkeeper is his only consolation. One day, almost by chance, he discovers the truth: the gigantic edifice is the only intact building in the area, everything else around it has been destroyed. Now he can make sense of his whole situation: the world of the theater, this imitation of reality, has become the only one worth preserving. A Kafka-like narrative in the first-person with undeniable literary qualities. (13+)
France (French) - 1993 - 109
Dessine-moi la Meer
(Draw Me the Sea)
Paris: Gautier-Languereua, 1992. 45 p. With art prints
children's drawings - sea
Dessine-moi la mer is not only a collection of children's pictures all having to do with the ocean but an extraordinary art volume of surprising pictorial richness. The selected pictures were created for the annual drawing contests organized by the A.P.C.M. (Association for the Promotion of Schoolclass Holidays by the Sea). Between 1985 and 1990, thousands of 9 to 10- year-old school children participated. The French tradition of books written by children, young people or whole school classes extends back to the 1920s. Today most of these books are illustrated fairy tale books (e.g., the bilingual series of the former G.E.S. Publishing House, unfortunately no longer available). (3+)
France (French) - 1993 - 110
L'herbe de guerre
(The Grass of War)
Paris: Syros Alternatives, 1992. 95 p.
(Les uns les autres)
first-person narrative - New Caledonia - Kanake revolt (1878)
The plot is set in New Caledonia when the revolt of 1878 by the autochtonous people against the French colonists was mercilessly crushed. A Kanake, 30-year-old Kowi, tells about what happened to him when he was 12 years of age. The Kanaken culture is described from the point of view of an insider; we experience the scorn of the conquerors, their lack of understanding, how the behavior of the whites is falsely interpreted by the Kanaka, their disappointed hopes, their helplessness. Initially the style seems somewhat wooden, but it becomes increasingly more fluid. Words in the native language are interspersed throughout the text to explain certain customs. A narrative, cruel in some passages, about an infamous chapter of the history of colonization which may have been replicated in other places. (12+)
France (French) - 1993 - 111
Le prince d'ébène
(The Ivory Prince)
Paris: Rageot, 1992. 150 p.
adventure - castle - school - violin - good/evil
The story is set in England in the 19th century. Young Luther is accepted into the famous violin academy of Balmour. One disappointment follows another, however. The threatening atmosphere, unjust and senile teachers, condescending and envious classmates appear to prevent any kind of progress. At night he thinks he hears a weeping violin, someone seems to be pursuing him. What drama is concealed behind the dismal castle walls? Luther does not give up: he solves the mystery, frees the violin and wins the annual competition in front of the queen. - A narrative in the first-person which we breathlessly follow to the end despite some improbabilities. Good wins over evil, self-discipline and perseverance are rewarded. Yet another successful work from the respected publishers who mainly bring out novels and narratives by French authors. (9+)
France (French) - 1993 - 112
Laurencin, Geneviève (text)
Le dimanche noyé de grand-père
(Grandfather's Sunken Sunday)
Rennes: Ouest-France, 1992.  p.
aging - death - grandfather/grandson
Whereas aging and death have already been made topics of picture books, senility and dying have remained taboo. Grégoire can hardly wait for his beloved grandfather Papé, a former ship captain, now retired, to arrive for lunch. Although his parents do their best to ignore Papé's disorderly attire and his bad table manners, Gregoire relishes them. Playing with Papé is such fun! But Papé has an accident in the bathroom, Gregoire takes his confused sentences literally and gets ready for a last game together on the stormy high seas. His grandfather's decline and death occupy the second half of the picture book. - The grandfather who is portrayed here in his contortions is an anarchic type. His childlike features please the grandson who has no fear of him. The absolute unity of text and pictures is conspicuous. The figures hurry across the pages, the caricatured drawing style creates the necessary emotional distance until in a final allegory Papé, rolled up like a baby, sinks into the sea. A lively and moving picture book which required some courage to draw. (7+)
France (French) - 1993 - 113
Michel, François (text)
Larvor, Yves (illus.)
Le livre animé de l'eau
(The Water Play Book)
Paris: Bayart Editions, 1992.  p.
play book - water
Here is the third volume of a remarkable non-fiction play book series, no less successful than the first two: the first title La terre qui bouge about volcanoes and earthquakes received an award in Bologna in 1991. Five double pages offer a clear and aesthetically appealing depiction of different aspects of the water cycle: e.g., the indispensability of water as the source of all life, the course of water both above and underground, the waste of water in cities, various applications of hydraulic power. An exciting explorative journey thanks to the excellent work of the illustrator and layouter who offer us a play book rich in informative "surprises." (8+)
France (French) - 1993 - 114
Muzi, Jean (text)
Franquin, Gérard (illus.)
Dix-neuf fables de singes
(19 Monkey Fables)
Paris: Castor Poche Flammarion, 1992. 132 p.
(Castor poche junior 387)
fable - monkeys - folktales
A collection of pleasant fairy tales and fables from all over the world in which the monkey appears not only in his hereditary role as clown and smart aleck but also as sage and unselfish helper. This is the seventh fairy tale book by the author, who grew up in Morocco. In his selection of fairy tales, the author admirably fulfills the cosmopolitan tradition of this paperback series for children and young people. (9+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1993 - 115
Rodrigo, Jean-Michel (text)
Perdereau, Hélène (illus.)
Pérou. Destination bidonvilles
(Peru, Destination Slums)
Paris: Albin Michel Jeunesse, 1992. 60 p.
(Camets du monde 18)
Peru - travel report - slums - Villa el Salvador
Becoming acquainted with the world by means of fictional or authentic travel reports, sketches and adventure narratives set in the capitals of the world are in demand these days in French literature for children and young people. Thus, the 18 titles of the series "Garnets du monde" are right on target. Cultivated design, thoughtful and lively layout, the quality of the information and the immediacy of the personal reports and the travel sketches themselves all contribute to their popularity. In this volume, the trip extends from the Andes to the model city "Villa el Salvador", the densely populated poor district of Peru, built in the desert near the capital city of Lima. The author conveys a thought-provoking insight into the problems of this community which, owing to the personal efforts of its inhabitants and its clever leadership, succeeded in becoming an autonomous and workable one. Atmospheric watercolors of breathtaking landscapes and the situation sketches let us participate in the events. (11+)
(Awarded the Plaque of the "Cinquième centenaire de la rencontre des deux mondes" 1992)
France (French) - 1993 - 116
Pennac, Daniel (text)
Chabot, Jean-Philippe (illus.)
Kamo. L'Agence Babel
(Kamo. The Babel Agency)
Paris: Gallimard Jeunesse, 1992. 92 p.
(Lecture junior 1)
languages - European classics
A new publishing concept underlies the series "Lecture junior" for 10 to 12-year-olds. These are large, almost square paperbacks. Neither author nor title are displayed on the glossy cover; the cover is supposed to speak for itself. The layout is relaxed with humorous pictures interspersed throughout the text. Among the many translations from English, the "Kamo" narratives by Daniel Pennac are the exception. In this book, Kamo's mother thinks up all sorts of ideas to lure her son and other boys into learning languages. By the way, the author is of the opinion that the study of European classics is not a bad way to go about this, especially when the heroes of past centuries are transformed into mysterious pen pals. - An entertaining little novel. (10+)
France (French) - 1993 - 117
Paris: Ecole des loisirs, 1992. 309 p. With art prints
ABC book - art education - painting (13th-20th century)
The French preference for "Imagiers" in the style of Père Castor - a kind of ABC book - and the increasing interest in art books for children have inspired this publishing house to try a novel experiment: to familiarize even small children with European art. Instead of drawing new objects for every letter, both responsible illustrators, Alain le Saux and Grégoire Solotareff, have chosen to select segments from works of art which depict the respective objects, persons or animals. The selection draws from all centuries and artistic styles; approximately 90 painters are represented with one or more pictures. A book for bibliophiles. both young and old. (6+)
France (French) - 1994 - 124
Barrault, Jean-Michel (text)
Maurel, Gilbert (illus.)
(The Sea in Misery)
Paris: Gallimard, 1993. 251 p.
(1st ed.: Seghers, 1991 for the text)
Newfoundland - Fishery - Codfish - Cabin-boy - Brittany/History <1900-1910>
This story is set in Brittany at the beginning of the 20th century. Thirteen-year-old Erwann leads a barren, unloved life in the country, a farmhand for a Breton fanner. Using every possible means, he seeks to join the codfishers, like his older brother. But life on the high seas proves to be no less merciless. Erwann survives the strain of a six-month journey, hard work, envy of a younger competitor and, last but not least, a capitan who goes crazy. When Erwann reaches land, he is much matured and knows what his future will be. The author is an expert on these topics and offers considerable technical details. He knows how to convey to the reader his own passion and that of the protagonist for the sea, describing life on board such a ship without reservations. This novel can be read at one go, and leaves one breathless in the end. (12+)
France (French) - 1994 - 125
Bourre, Marline (text/illus.)
Paris: Pére Castor-Flammarion, 1993.  p.
Freedom - Battle - Horse - Knight - Middle Ages
An aesthetically appealing picture book about freedom and dependency – the horse’s dependency upon man. A horse enjoys its unlimited freedom, is captured, drilled for war, lead into battle in full dress. It rears up, throwing the master off, and flees to freedom - but another human is already waiting for it. A parable which takes us back to the times of the knights, tournaments, and exquisite harnesses. The pictures show the vastness of the country, the strength of the horses, the frightful chaos of bodies and armour intertwined in battle. A picture book in retiring sepia tones, whose full beauty reveals itself only after several lookings. (6+)
France (French) - 1994 - 126
Brisou-Pellen, Evelyne (text)
Pilorget, Bruno (illus.)
Les cinq écus de Bretagne
(The Five Coins from Brittany)
Paris: Hachette Jeunesse, 1993. 250 p.
(Le livre de poche jeunesse 453)
Britanny/History <1469-1479 > - Adoption - Betrayal - City/Everyday Life
Why does the paymaster of Rennes, James Boisguérin, take in the young girl who - disguised as a boy - rang at his door on a summer evening in 1469 and asked him for help. Why must Guillemette Landais take on the name Philippa and why are the neighbors so suspicious of her? Will she grow into a self-reliant woman and be allowed to go into the profession of her benefactor? The reader follows these events that take place in city in western France in the Middle Ages with suspense. This lively written novel conveys a wealth of details about the life and customs of that period. (10+)
France (French) - 1994 - 127
Coran, Pierre (text)
Bennan, Laurent (illus.)
Le coeur andalou
(The Andalusian heart)
Paris: Hachette Jeunesse, 1993. 114 p.
(Le livre de poche jeunesse 466)
Handicapped Youth - Correspondence - Accident Victim - Recovery
When fourteen-year old Julien is run over by a motorcycle, he is confined to a wheelchair, unable to leave his room. To help him, his mother. Divine, invents a fictitious fellow, Thomas from Bourges, who writes him letters and lends him courage. Julien reacts at first hesitantly, but gradually the letters take on a central role in his existence. He dictates poems which reflect his moods. He shifts between the dark of the accident and the light of future recovery. A story told entirely in images and omissions, concise, even eliptic sentences and short chapters. The author has succeeded splendidly in portraying the emotional world of a modern youth. (12+)
France (French) - 1994 - 128
Cosern, Michel (text)
Turin, Philippe-Henri (illus.)
Le chemin du bout du monde
(The Path at the End of the World)
Toulouse: Milan, 1993. 169 p.
Spain <Northeast> - Country Life - City Lifa/Everyday Life - First Love - Plague - Middle Ages
Loizu, a village in northern Spain near the Pyrenees during the Middle Ages, is visited by all the scourges - by drought, famish, plague, the wolves and last but not least the tax agents of the feudal lord. Johan, protected by a mysterious black apparition, and his childhood girlfriend, Oncha, are the only survivors. They hope to find a better life in the city of Pamplona, But the life struggle in the natureless city, which feels like a prison, is no less merciless. But Johan always finds a way, and soon he and Oncha find a protector. In spring they plan to return to Loizu with their new friends. The author describes the feelings of the protagonists. Inspite of all injustice, a strong feeling of hope runs through this beautiful novel. (11+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1994 - 129
Denis, Jean Claude (text/illus.)
L'île aux mainates
Paris: Albin Michel Jeunesse, 1993.  p.
(Les contes à dormir debout du pirate Pilou)
Pirate - Thrush (Blackbird) - Mimicry - Humor
This is the story of the feared and terrible pirate Pitou and a mainate, a clever, talking kind of thrush which leaves its home island on board Pitou's ship going to Europe. From the beak of this intelligent bird there is much to be heard. Upon arrival in Europe the thrush learns to imitate all sounds of our civilization and almost drives Pitou crazy, until he decides to return the irksome bird to his own kind. Ever since then this otherwise paradisical island has been filled with a true cacophony of the sounds of our civilization. In this oversized picturebook in comicstrip style - the author is known for his comics for adults - Jean Claude Denis succeeds in perfectly orchestrating the easily understood text with the pictures. Exclamations and commentaries are additionally placed in balloons. A first person report and nice, absurd fun. (4+)
France (French) - 1994 - 130
Gripari, Pierre (text)
Lapointe, Claude (illus.)
Contes d'ailleurs et d'autre part
(Tales from other sides and elsewhere)
Paris: Grasset-Jeunesse, 1993. 102 p.
(Collection Grands lecteurs)
Modern Fairy Tale/France
This author, who unfortunately died too young, is much loved in France, but unknown in Germany, for instance. Pierre Gripari has written numerous popular, head-strong tales for children. They are usually set in the French countryside, small towns, and the quarters of old Paris, Together with Claude Lapointe, a most congenial illustrator, he published several elegantly designed volumes with Grasset. This book is once again enrichened by his expressive, slightly grotesque pictures. (9+)
France (French) - 1994 - 131
lmraguen. Les pêcheurs du désert
(lmragu. The Fishers of the Desert With illus. and photos.)
Paris: Gallimard, 1993. 79 p.
(Fleur de Lampaul)
Mauretania - Exploration - Sea Voyage - Travelog - International Understanding
The children between twelve and sixteen years of age, from all European countries and different social backgrounds who are allowed to board the coastal ship "Fleur de Lampaul" in the company of scientists for several months, are to be envied. This is their report of their journey which took them to Mauritania and the little known desert fishers, the lmragues. It is a kind of diary, with texts written mainly by the youthful passengers. They report about everyday events on board the ship, their observations and experiences, interpersonal encounters. Drawings and photos accompany the text. It is also interesting to note that the pupils stayed in contact with their school classes at home via radio, keeping up with their lessons. (12+)
France (French) - 1994 - 132
L’invention de la peinture
(The Discovery of Painting)
Paris: Galliard Jeun.esse, 1993. 47 p. With illustrations
(Les racines du savoir. Arts)
Art Appreciation - Painting Technique
A new series of information books was begun by Gallimard in the spring of 1993 which, according to the publisher, are based on a new manner of getting childred involved in a subject. The series is divided into subject areas such as Nature, Music, Art, Science. Paging through the book can he likened to an exploration journey or even a Happening. The designers have come up with creative ideas and employed all the resources available in modern book technology. This volume does not treat painting as an art but rather the history of painting techniques in Europe and elsewhere, the production of colors and grounds, the implementation of modem processes, the work of art restorers, etc. An index, a chronological table and biographic notes complete this glossy, multi-colored and multi-dimensional panorama. (10+)
France (French) - 1994 - 133
Judenne, Roger (text)
Maucler, Christian (illus.)
Quand naîtra le lama bleu
(The Birth of the Blue Lamas)
Toulouse: Milan, 1993. 107 p.
Andes - Indians/Soulh America - Exploitation - Lama
Bitter poverty dominates the Altiplano. The Indian village inhabitants are oppressed by the mestizos who come regularly to the village to buy up lamas, the sole source of wealth, at ridiculously low prices. The mestizos also offer jobs in the city, and the Indians unsuspectingly sign contracts in the hope of enabling their families a better life. In the village when Federico lives the old village wiseman preaches in vain that the misery in the city is even greater than there. And yet Federico's father signs up for work. Federico wants to save the herd of lamas which his father has turned over to him. He flees to the mountains, where a blue lama is born. An Indian legend says that this heralds the beginning of a better future. In short, describing the oppressive atmosphere, the unending misery, the ignorance of the resigned Indians, as well as their love for their barren surroundings. It is a novel about a revolt, of which Federico becomes the unwilling leader. (9+)
France (French) - 1994 - 134
Lenain, Thierry (text)
Un pacte avec le diable
(A Pact with the Devil)
Paris: Syros, 1993. 75 p.
(1st ed.: Syros, 1988 (croche patte))
Drug Addiction - Runaway - Friendship - Divorce
Because she cannot stand her step-father, twelve-year old Roxanne leaves home one night after a fight. She tries in vain to reach her father and his new girlfriend and meets instead David, who takes her in. She discovers that he is a drug addict - sometimes happy, sometimes sad and remote. For several days they live together like brother and sister - she an active, life-affirming element, he doomed to self-destruction. Returning one day after shopping, she finds David dead on the couch. Roxanne flees and collapses, unconscious, in the arms of her father's girlfriend, who nurses her back to health. Roxanne is able to stay on with them, Roxanne tells her story in the first person in a naturally witty language. Her view of events is at the same time child-like and precocious. The way she meets David, how she tries lo drag him out of his hellish world, her experience with her newly developing woman-hood, and her determination not to be dragged down, speak to the heart. (11+)
(Prix Sorcières 1989 from the French Book- sellers)
France (French) - 1994 - 135
Massin/Les chats pelés (text/illus.)
Jouons avec les chiffres
(Let's Play with Numbers)
Paris: Seuil Jeunesse, 1993.  p.
Number - Counting System
Playfully, but still in earnest, this over-sized information book introduces and explains numbers and counting systems of different peoples from ancient times up to today. A wonderful pretext for a group of talented young graphic artists, under the guidance of a well-known artist, to demonstrate their wealth of ideas and talent for graphic mise en scène. There is much here to study and to try out on one's own, (8+)
France (French) - 1994 - 136
Mingarelli, Hubert (text)
La lumière volée
(The Stolen Light)
Paris: Gallimard, 1993. 121 p. (page blanche)
Poland - National Socialism - Persecu- tion/Jew - Survival - Friendship - Cemetery
In a town near Warsaw, eleven-year old Elie finds refuge from his Nazi-SS pursuers in a cemetery in the Jewish ghetto. Setting up camp in front of the grave of Joseph Cytrin, he confides his fears and discoveries to Joseph, and also writes poems which he memorizes. One day he is joined by a some-what older boy, Gad, who deals in the black market and clearly feels superior to Elie. Every evening Elie goes off to eat, getting a little warmth from a sympathetic waitress, and also supplying Gad with food. Elie's monologue at the grave, the scanty dialogues of the two youth against the ever-present danger make up this short tale. Elie and Gad create an imaginary world which, because they forget their surroundings for a short time, ultimately leads to their deaths. The author has succeeded in transporting tragic events to a poetic level, making a stronger impression on the reader. (15+)
France (French) - 1994 - 137
Pommaux, Yvan (text/illus.)
John Chatterton detective
(John Chatterton, Detective)
Paris: L'Ecole des loisirs, 1993.  p.
ISBN 2- 211 03245-1
Little Red Riding Hood <Motif> - Cat - Wolf- Art Collector - Detective Story
Fairy tale motifs inspire children's and youth book authors to ever new variations. In this illustrated variation on the Little Red Riding Hood story, a smartly dressed cat is called upon in his detective office by an elegant young lady dressed in the style of the Twenties who begs him to find her vanished daughter. Identification aid: the daughter is dressed all in red. The detective John Chatterton vaguely remembers a wolf story and sets off. Along the way, he encounters various pieces of red clothing, which lead him to the right address. This time the wolf appears as an art connoisseur, his walls covered with wolf portraits by famous painters. The bound-and-gagged Riding Hood is used as bait for a farther painting. The remarkable feature of this long-sided book are the half- side, full-side and double-side illustrations which give the detective chase a suspenseful atmosphere. They are filled with subtle references to famous art works, comic strip figures, and earlier picture books by the author himself. (5+)
France (French) - 1995 - 101
Begag, Azouz (text)
Quand on est mort, c'est pour toute la vie
(When you're dead, its for the rest of your life)
Paris: Gallimard Jeunesse, 1994. 122 p.
Lyons - Algeria - France/Immigrant - Homelessness - Social power - Social injustice - Identity crisis
The first-person narrator of this young adult novel, Amar, is a writer. He is a "beur," the French name for the second generation of Algerian immigrants. His younger brother, Murad, is shot by a taxi driver because he cannot pay the fare for the ride to the airport. Murad had dreamed of flying to America. The reader sympathizes with Amar's desperation, which leads him to perform irrational acts in attempt to provoke the Lyons police. He wonders whether Murad's death was not prosecuted because he was a "beur." To get some rest Amad travels again to Algeria, the land in which he was not born and has not seen for thirteen years. Finding everything completely changed, he hastily leaves his family village. In an adventure-filled return trip by bus through the desert, he is a powerless witness to the undercurrent political fighting that is destroying the land. Police and spies are omnipresent. But nothing happens to him, the rich "beur." Amar observes the contradictions in this country, its inner conflicts. He would like to help, but feels that he doesn't fit in there. (14+) ☆
(Prix Cercle dʹ Or Livres Hebdo 1994)
France (French) - 1995 - 102
Bloch, Muriel (text)
Tjoyas, Alexios (illus.)
La femme-jardin et autres contes extravagants
(The Garden Woman and Other Eccentric Tales)
Paris: Syros, 1994. 124 p.
(Paroles de conteurs)
Story-telling - Fairy tales/Anthology - Love Feminism
Eight volumes in this new series "Tales from Around the World" have already been published. The publisher's stated goal is to retain the vividness of the narrative ductus in the printed version. The texts are short and printed in large type using particularly praiseworthy typography. Pithy sentences or passages are emphasized in the size and boldness of the script. In this volume we are confronted with seven amazing tales which give evidence of the author's bizarre humor and the verve of her storytelling. (8+)
France (French) - 1995 - 103
Bouton, Émilie (text)
Dedieu, Thierry (illus.)
(Watch out, Mimolette!)
Paris: Albin Michet Jeunesse, 1994.  p.
Mouse - Household/Danger - Adventure
A little mouse still in green diapers escapes from the confines of its parents' home and embarks on a series of adventures in the human household. Hunting for delicacies it lands in all kinds of calamities. These are portrayed from imposing perspectives on generously painted, brightly colored acrylic pictures. The text, written in the style of children's rhymes, draws attention to the dangers to which Minolette has exposed herself. In this picture book the author and illustrator succeed in warning children of the dangers which are lurking in every household in an original, humorous manner. (4+) ☼
France (French) - 1995 - 104
Brisou-Pellen, Evelyne (text)
Besse, Christophe (illus.)
Le Vrai prince Thibault
(The true Prince Thibault)
Paris: Rageot, 1994. 89 p.
King/Right of succession - Friendship - Mix-up
Who is the true son of the king? What might be the onset of a tragedy is presented here as an amusing fairy tale. Thibault is the son of the king; the same-aged Guillaume is the son of the king's servant, whose wife is also Thibault's wet-nurse. When she dies, no one else is able to tell the two infants apart. The two boys grow up together, become inseparable companions, and even call themselves Thillaume and Guibault. The king and all his court waver between the wish to finally get to the truth and the acceptance of an insolvable situa- tion. Since every lead proves to be an illu- sion, there are many hilarious mix-ups and even malicious intrigues. But the heart and mind are stronger. The two successors share the royal crown. This entertaining and tale conceals a more serious core question - how to determine the ge- nuine successor? In the appendix the author lists some historical examples. (10+) ☼
(Prix Tam-Tam 1994 Jʹ aime lire - Je bouquine. Salon du Livre de Jeunesse)
France (French) - 1995 - 105
Cohen-Scali, Sarah (text)
Mallart, Bruno (illus.)
Arthur Rimbaud, le voleur de feu
(Arthur Rimbaud, The Fire Thief)
Paris: Hachette Jeunesse, 1994. 286 p.
(Livre de poche jeunesse 491)
Belgium - Rimbaud, Arthur (1854- 1891)/Childhood/Biography - Entwicklungsroman
Those who are interested in this French poet will enjoy the biography of his childhood and youthful years. With much love and persistence Sarah Cohen-Scali delved into his first years in Charleville, a poor small town in the Ardennes near the border of France. This novel is based on the Rimbaud biography by Jean-Luc Steimetz, Rimbaud's correspondence, and above all on the inspiration the author received from his poetry. The result is an exceptionally lively portrayal of the psychological and literary development of the young Rimbaud in the midst of an impoverished, bigoted and strict mother and three siblings in a gloomy provincial dump. The brilliant model pupil turns into a rebellious, restless poet, possessed by his work and intentionally giving himself off as a good-for-nothing. With his teacher, George lzambard, with whom he shares a deep bond of friendship, Rimbaud is confronted with new Republican ideals. Attempting to flee the narrowness of his surroundings, Rimbaud's initially unsuccessful escapades finally lead him to his idolized Verlaine. Rimbaud dreams of a colorful bird of paradise he calls "Baou", which inspires him to compose his poems. Each of "Baou's" sudden "appearances" is cleverly used by the author as a symbol of Rimbaud's talent. A novel-like biography which undoubtedly brings us nearer to the "mystery" of Rimbaud. (13+)
France (French) - 1995 - 106
Dedieu, Thierry (text/illus.)
Paris: Seuil Jeunesse, 1994.  p.
Africa - Initiation - Lion hunt - Test of Courage - Peace Pedagogy - Non-violence - Self-discovery
Powerful, almost frightening black-and- white illustrations depict the story of Yakouba, a young African boy, who has the courage to resist the cruel tradition of his tribe. When the lion, whom he is to kill as the test of courage during his rate of initiation, begs him to be merciful, Yakouba grants his wish. He is thus faced with the social contempt of his people. As punishment he is appointed to a passive post as the guardian of the village herd. Yakouba has proven his courage in a different manner, by making a decision on his own and he receives a different kind of reward. From that time onward, the herd is never again attacked by any lion. Yakouba's courage of self-responsibility and non-violence were of benefit to the entire village. (7+) ☆ ☼
France (French) - 1995 - 107
Delval, Jacques (text)
(So long, old school!)
Paris: Castor Poche Flammarion, 1994. 195 p.
(Castor Poche Senior 445)
Trade school - Social inequality - Generation conflict - Theft - Friendship - Teacher - Solidarity - Lovesickness
Everyday life in the last year of a trade training school in a suburb of Paris forms the background of this story. The pupils are bored, have no goal, are easily seducible. The parents are unsympathetic. The inexperienced young teacher Bancourt, who actually had higher ambitions, stands helplessly in front of his first class. Yet he succeeds in getting the class on his side. He befriends Jed, who like him is searching for an identity. Jed becomes involved in a case of car theft, for which not he but his classmate Diellez is guilty. This novel ends with a glimpse of hope when Brancourt and Jed together attend to Diellez. The author, himself a teacher for many years, has a special talent for conveying the school atmosphere, poised between indifference and discipline, and the varying attitudes of the teachers. (13+) ☆ ☼
France (French) - 1995 - 108
Féraud, Dominique-Jacqeline (text/illus.)
Le Fil d' Ariane ou Jouer le Jeu pour Vivre ie Mythe
(The Ariadne Thread or Playing the Game to Experience the Myth)
Paris: lpomée / Albin Michel, 1944.  p. + Gameboard
Greece (Antiquity) - Mythology - Theseus Labyrinth - Game of dice - Didactics
Encased in an unusual binding are the boardgame "Jeu de l' oie", a game of simpleton which purportedly traces back it the Greeks, and a book which presents the life of Theseus. The attractively designed book, whose verse text is printed on pale- grey paper and laid out in a way which lends itself to reading aloud, functions as well as the rules of the game. Each field of the game board corresponds to a section of the book and an event in the life of Theseus. The game is laid out in a labyrinth. This is an original idea of acquainting children in a playful way with an episode of Greek mythology. (12+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 109
Gaussen, Dominique (text)
François I er & les Châteaux de la Loire
(Francis I & the Loire castles)
Paris: Mango, 1994. 96 p. With illustrations
(Regard dʹʹaujourd ʹhai)
Francis I of France - Loire/Castles - Royal Court - France/Everyday life 1494-1547
The author and successful advertising expert, Dominique Gaussen, has taken Voltaire's motto that all types of things are good except the boring ones, and proven its truth. Thanks to his humorful inventiveness we are given a well-paced and diversified glimpse into the life of the French king, life at the royal court, and the origins of the Loire castles. Gaussen cleverly embeds it into the social and historical context of the Renaissance. This illustrated informative book is designed as a stimulating piece of journalism and owes much to modern techniques of advertising. Divided into numerous short, very different chapters, the eye-catching headlines, the combination of old documents, photomontage, and contemporary caricatures awakens the reader's curiosity. This very new style of disseminating knowledge matches the times best of all. (12+)
(Prix Cercle dʹ Or Livres Hebdo 1994)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 110
Gutman, Claude (text)
Rue de Paris
(A Street in Paris)
Paris: Gallimard Jeunesse, 1994. 187 p.
Paris/World War II - Jews/Persecution - Homelessness - Palestine - Emigration - Search for identity
This is the last volume of a trilogy about the fate of Jews in France during the Second World War. David is filled with the desire for revenge when he learns the fate of his parents at the end of the war. He leaves Paris and the people who had given him a home. Searching for a new meaning to his life, he takes care of Jewish orphans, falls in love with Sarah, and follows her to Palestine on an adventure-filled crossing of Mediterranean by ship. But Palestine is still under British control. He experiences the hard and anonymous life in the refugee camps and kibbutz, the struggles against the occupying powers. In short, clipped sentences he tells of his bereavement, his anger, his sense of being lost, his inner vacuum. But he is drawn into the tumultuous events around him. His love of literature, his feelings for the totally committed Zionisten Sara, the solidarity of the comrades are highlights in the struggle for survival. In a final identity crisis, he decides to return to France. Claude Gutman grew up in Israel; his descriptions of the arrival of Jewish refugees and the precarious daily life in Palestine are most impressive. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 111
La Fontaine, Jean de (text)
Paris: Albin Michel, 1994. 66 p. With illustrations
Fables - Animal/Fable
This year is the 300th anniversary of the writer Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695). In commemoration, Albin Michel has issued this splendid large-sized volume of fables. Thirty well-known children's book illustrators and comic artists from France and also from other countries were commissioned to contribute illustrations. Whether traditional or idiosyncratic, their interpretations are extremely stimulating and awaken the well-known teachings of morality and cleverness to new life. The final two pages are particularly humorous. The artists have written and drawn their own biographical sketches. This volume will please both young and old; a must for every library collection. (7+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 112
Pennart, Geoffroy de (text/illus.)
Le loup est revenu!
(The wolf has returned!)
Paris: Kaléidoscope, 1994.  p.
Rabbit - Wolf- Fear - Fairy tale/Spoof- Animal Tale
The wolf has returned! Upon receiving this threatening piece of news, various well- known figures of classic fairy tales seek refuge in the rabbit's home. In a reversal of the usual course of events, the Seven Billy Goats, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Three Little Pigs, among others, arrive. The very last guest is the bad wolf himself. But all turns out harmoniously with a common vegetarian feast. To top it all off, the wolf tells them scary wolf stories. It makes merry reading for young and old to follow these funny episodes of fairy tale spoofing. Prix Saint-Exupéry 1994 - Valeurs Jeunessi (4+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 113
Pernin, Muriel (text)
Wintz, Nicolas (illus.)
Famine: l' arme des tyrans
(Famine: The weapon of tyrants)
Paris: Syros, 1994. 134 p.
State/Misuse of power - Oppression - Famine - Ukraine/History 1931-33 - Kosovo/History 1993 - Traveller's journal
This is one of the first titles in a new, daring and elegantly designed series focusing on human rights. The name of the series is taken from Zola's famous outcry "J' accuse!" in the French press on January 13, 1898. Its principle is simple. Two stories frame an extensive documentary middle section. In this case, the first historical report deals with the events in the Ukraine during a great famine in 1933, which was precipitated by the Soviet Union to gain access to power. The author draws on documents and eye-witness accounts of refugees in France and survivors in the Ukraine. The second historical report is a diary of a humanitarian aid project in Kosovo in 1993. Because the author succeeds in maintain a distance to the events being described, the reader is able to deal with the gruesome suffering in an objective manner. The elegant design of the volume contrasts with its content and weakens its effect to some extent. (15+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 114
Une nuit, un chat...
(A night, a cat ...)
Paris: Lʹ Ecole des loisirs, 1994.  p.
Cat - Father/Conflict - Adventure - Nighttime - First love
Even in cat families the day comes when the youngest offspring goes out at night alone. The worried father follows his son secretly and intervenes discretely and unrecognized whenever danger arises. Breathlessly the reader follows Groucho's first adventures in the darkened city, which the illustrator has masterly staged in a series of pictures. The nighttime scenery, the slanted rooftops, the motionless statues, the threatening shadows are impressive. On secret corners, on the large square, there is an active nightlife for cats. All the cat protagonists are attired in clothing and endowed with the human characteristics. Groucho has a happy and a dangerous encounter. The next night he goes out again. In this humorous and well- drawn picture book Pommaux succeeds once again in transposing general human experience to the animal world. (5+) ☼
(Sélection Livrimages 1994)
France (French) - 1996 - 112
Albaut, Corinne (text)
Ceccarelli, Serge (illus.)
Comptines á croquer
(Counting Verses to Nibble On)
Arles: Actes Sud Junior, 1995. 64 p.
France (French) - 1996 - 113
Albaut, Corinne (text)
Boucher, Michel (illus.)
Comptines pour le temps de Noël
(Counting Verses for the Christmas Season)
Arles: Actes Sud Junior, 1995. 64 p.
Counting - Poems - Wordplay
The publishers have launched their new series for young children with two treats: counting rhymes that melt on the tongue, ring in the ear and are easy to learn. The lovely illustrations often put the cheery nonsensical wordplay on words in astoundingly inventive scenes. To be read aloud, looked out, recited and continued. (3+)
France (French) - 1996 - 114
Baronian, Jean-Baptiste (text)
Paris: Grasset Jeunesse, 1995.  p.
Dog - Sheep - Seasons
Polichon is a shepherd dog who cares for his own herd of sheep. One sees him busy with his tasks throughout the year. This picture book of collages made with torn paper of various textures and coarse material is seemingly simple and broad, but the details, in the animal faces and gestures, are filled with astounding emotional expressiveness. The haptic quality of the collages may also motivate young readers to undertake such creations of their own. The novelist and fantasy writer Baronian contributed the ingenuous verses. (3+) ☼
France (French) - 1996 - 115
Binder, Jean (text/illus.)
Pipo et Sifflet sont des Cobayes
(Pipo and Sifflet are Guinea Pigs)
Paris: Archimède/ L'École des Loisirs, 1995. 38 p.
Guinea pigs/Pets - Pets/Guidebook - Adventure
This first picture book by the well-known Zurich illustrator Jean Binder, is an adventure story of runaway guinea pigs with an original punch line, and illustrated in his usual wood-cut style scratchboard technique. He employs the guinea pigs ground-level perspective to show how the human sphere towers above it and can seem threatening. Lovers of this house pet will find useful tips in the appendix about care, food and birthing habits. (5+)
France (French) - 1996 - 116
Bon, François (text)
Dans la ville invisible
(In the Invisible City)
Paris: Gallimard, 1995. 124 p.
Reading - Reality/Unreality
Home alone in an apartment on the 14th floor, oscillating between dream and reality for five days and nights, the protagonist, an introverted teenage boy, goes through a phase of time-unbounded hallucinations. He had buried himself in a book of old legends, leaving them only for a nightly round through the high-rise building, where he experiences unreal encounters. The dividing line between the fictitious world of books and imagination and the concrete reality has completely disappeared. Everything seems equally real. In short, intervening chapters other narrators (the doorman, his stepfather, a friend) have their say. The novel weaves fantasy, lyricism and surrealism with a pinch of humor into a piece of high-level literature, equally suited for adults. (15+)
(Prix Totem 1995 du meilleur roman)
France (French) - 1996 - 117
Boudet, Robert (text)
Daniau, Marc (illus.)
Coups de théâtre
(Effects of Theater)
Toulouse: Milan, 1995. 150 p.
Theatre play - Self-experience - Group solidarity - First love - Intercultural understanding - Violence
A theatre group is established at a school and begins to rehearse. The peppy novel convincingly conveys the increasing fascination of the group with the play. The young reader will be able to identify with them easily. They speak his jargon and have the same daily problems - friendship, first love, puberty, complexes and self-experience, as well as cultural barriers with foreign-born classmates and an unsettling experience with youth violence. This book is part of the »Mille Passions« series, which covers a wide spectrum of themes, which young people are known to find interesting. Even notorious non-readers will find these up-to-date books to their taste. (12+) ☆
France (French) - 1996 - 118
Brun-Cosme, Nadine (text)
Boucher, Michel (illus.)
La maison des trains
(The House of the Trains)
Paris: Ipomée, 1995. 54 p.
Friendship - Loneliness - Train
From a distant hill, across the snowy landscape broken only by the railway tracks a young boy watches the signal house. He is at once curious and fearful of the mysterious inhabitants. The little girl behind the window sees him. She cannot open it as long as the father is away. The children get to know each other only very gradually. Loneliness and fear lay upon their souls like the snow blankets the countryside. The discreet elegance of the illustrations leave considerable empty space for the cold winter. Suddenly, like an explosion, the steam engine breaks into the numbness, the graphic peak of the book. (9+)
France (French) - 1996 - 119
Combesque, Marie Agnès (text)
Gibrat, Jean-Pierre (illus.)
Drogue: Aux deux bouts de la chaîne
(At Both Ends of the Chain)
Paris: Syros, 1995.  p.
Drugs - Mafia - Crime - Poverty
This educational book on the topic of »drugs« is divided into three sections. In the middle section a documentary report gives an overview of the world-wide net of plantations and processing, organizations of the drug cartel, business and money-washing, users and their street crime. Two fictitious stories before and after this documentary section show the fate of the weakest members of this chain - at the beginning, the Columbian farmers who are forced to plant cannabis, and at the other end, the young drug addicts in Paris who waste away between shots. The very concrete approach to this topic is food for thought, not only for young readers. (12+)
France (French) - 1996 - 120
Douzou, Olivier (text)
Lejonc, Régis (Illus.)
Tour de manège
Rodez: Rouergue, 1995.  p.
Merry-go-round - Enchantment - World travel - Old age
The flyleaves of this picture book show sketches of old wooden merry-go-rounds from the museum of fairs in Paris. The double-paged pictures tell the story of two children who loose track of time in the endless circular rides. The perspective from the merry-go-round is enchanting. From the small circle the children fly out onto a trip around the world. The text coils and rolls with the rhythm of the rounds as an eternally repeated refrain from page to page. The children grow imperceptibly from one round to the next. When all their tickets are gone, they are old people. Once again they buy tickets. (5+) ☼
France (French) - 1996 - 121
Dubost, Jean-Pascal (text)
Melinette, Martine (illus.)
Les quatre - chemins
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon: Cheyne Éditeur, 1995.  p.
(Poèmes à grandir)
Poetry - School holidays - Auvergne - Grandparents
There is a consistent meticulousness in the volumes of this series. High-quality paper, rasberry colored lettering and dark blue graphics blend together to make a bibliophilic edition that will also provide young readers aesthetic pleasures. The poems reflect the now past magic of the long summer holidays with the grandparents. The second part is then dedicated to the now widowed grandmother whose loneliness is tenderly and painfully felt from the child's perspective. Using the face and hands of a clock, the illustrations play with the basic theme of time's inevitable progress. (12+)
France (French) - 1996 - 122
Guyennon-Duchêne, Claudie (text/illus.)
Adéwi Komé, la nuit
(Adéwi Komé, at Night)
Orange: Grandir, 1994.  p.
Africa/Travel - Togo - Diary - Foreignness
The idiosyncratic southern France publishing house has specialized in graphically unusual artistic books. This African diary, too, rests on its exceptional design. Strongly impressed with her stay in Togo, a young artist rendered this into expressively painted sketches of effusive colorfulness, in which strongly repainted Polaroid photos and a rudimentary text composed of keywords are inserted. The visual immediacy with which the fascinating and often unsettling experiences are outlined will appeal to young readers. (12+) ☆
France (French) - 1996 - 123
Une vie à tout prix
(Life at Any Cost)
Paris: Rageot-Editeur, 1994. 156 p.
Kidney transplantation - Donor organs/Black market - Affluence - Third world - Slum children - Hippocratic oath
How the fates of two individuals coincide without meeting is narrated here in alternation. Melanie lives in France and has an incurable kidney disease. To save her life her parents bring her to a clinic in Bogota where organ transplantations are carried out. Adriano is an orphan who struggles to survive in the slums of Bogota. He is snatched away in a car and taken to a clinic where one of his kidneys is removed. Then he is sent back to the streets again. The shocking facts in this story are revealed without embellishment. A short documentary appendix deals with the medical and ethical issues involved. (13+)
(Prix du Roman de Jeunesse (for the manuscript), 1994)
France (French) - 1996 - 124
Muscat, Bruno (text)
Besson, Jean-Louis (illus.)
Les secrets d'une ville
(The Secrets of a City)
Paris: Bayard, 1995. 46 p.
Paris/Guide - Big City/Life style
From early morning until nightfall Madame Pinson travels through Paris with her young charges. In double-paged illustrations thousands of humorously drawn details show how people in the big city live and work, how traffic and commerce are organized. A city plan helps provide an overview. With a »find-the-figure« game, the reader is encouraged to look for people with certain names and professions in the teeming crowds of the big city. In this way the city of a million inhabitants loses its anonymity and becomes an accessible living space. Highly recommendable for foreign language instruction. (10+) ☼
France (French) - 1996 - 125
Pour faire un ours bleu, choisir un beau lion...
(To Make a Blue Bear, take One Beautiful Lion...)
Paris: Le sourire qui mord, 1995.  p.
This first picture book by Eric Peltier is somewhat irritating at first glance because the pictures make a mockery of the text. When the story tells of a wellbehaved, polite bear, the pictures present a lazy bear and rowdy bear. Children will soon have fun with this game of opposites in the alternating text and picture and will continue the story further. At first glance the brightly colored illustrations are terse and self-evident, but upon closer viewing reveal amusing details and often fascinating perspectives. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1996 - 126
Piquemal, Michel (select.)
Vautier, Mireille (illus.)
Paroles de fraternité
(Words of Fraternity)
Paris: Albin Michel, 1996. 64 p.
Fraternity - Ethics - Anthology
To share, to give, to stand together - these are synomyms for fraternity or brotherhood. Saint- Exupéry said it with an image: we must throw a ladder out into the night. Abbé Pierre, father figure for all the homeless, has taken as the motto for his life: remember to love! All the authors who are represented in this anthology know of the mobilizing power of fraternity from a deep human experience. Whether Epiket, Tolstoy, Georges Brassens - they all express with a passion their dedication to fellow man in an impressive, personal style. Their words are not merely abstract appeals, but suggest possibilities for practicing the ideas of fraternity. That makes this collection of text so seducingly convincing. It can be a vade mecum for one's own life. The illustrations, done in the style of art brut, corresponding perfectly to the spirit and immediate appellative character of the texts. Reduced to their simplest form as heads, the figures have stripped off everything that would prevent an encounter with their brothers. Their ability to smile is as convincing as the expressivness of the texts. And the vivid, flat/broadly applied colors correspond to the message of the words. The sources of the text are given in an bibliographic appendix. This series also contains other recommendable anthologies. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1996 - 127
Poncelet, Béatrice (text/illus.)
Chut ! Elle lit.
(Shhh! She Is Reading)
Paris: Seuil Jeunesse, 1995. 36 p.
Mother/Child - Reading - Disturbances - Tenderness
Two pairs of children's eyes peer out of the darkness - codes for the point of view from which the story is to be experienced. The children's mother has buried herself in soft pillows near the mellow light of her lamp, hoping for a quiet hour of reading. Suddenly a zooming toy grasshopper and a picturebook are pushed to the foreground. They belong to the sons, who pester their mother, demanding her affection. The cool, dark tones give way to warm, lighter colors and at last she enfolds all the children in her arms. In this suble portrayal of childlike perceptions, the artist has broken with all conventional techniques of picture book illustration. She works with an assembly of elements which can only be grasped with associative reading and encoding. (10+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1996 - 128
Ponti, Claude (text/illus.)
Tromboline et Foulbazar: Les Masques
(Tromboline and Foulbazar: The masks)
Paris: L'École des Loisirs, 1995. 20 p.
Chicks - Masks - Fear - Fun
The well-known illustrator presents an attractive series for small children in small format. Reduced to a few funny effects, the graphic economy of the story develops its own sophistication. With selfmade masks two little merry chicks take pleasure in frightening each other. And the masks are so well done that they are even frightened of themselves. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1996 - 129
Royer, Alain (text)
Carpentier, Georges (text)
de Seynes, Sophie (illus.)
Paris: Mango, 1995.  p.
Bible - Jesus - Jerusalem - Last Supper - Resurrection
This new series is intended to provide little children with their first encounter with Biblical stories. The idea is correspondingly clear-cut: the easily understandable texts are kept short in comparison with the space given over to the illustrations which portray Biblical scenes in transparent watercolors. The faces are drawn with pen strokes, and showing lively real-life mimics. The colors and localized details of the Mediterranean world are carefully chosen, stimulating a closer look. This is also a suitable book for reading aloud and re-telling. (3+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 1996 - 132
Weulersse, Odile (text)
Manaud, Jean-Luc (photos)
Aghali, berger du desert
(Aghali, Shepherd in the Desert)
Paris: Hatier, 1995. 62 p.
Sahara Desert - Touareg
The life and customs of the Touareg caught between tradition and modern demands is presented here through a fictitious tale about a young shepherd boy. High-quality documentary photos accompany the text. In an appendix further ethnographic information and explanations are provided. This is a new addition to the well-received series »Pali Mali« on modern ethnography. (8+) ☆
France (French) - 1997 - 117
Amelin, Michel (text)
Frély, Gilles (illus.)
Un crime est-il facile?
(A crime is easy?)
Paris: Epigones, 1996. 90 p.
Twins - Detective - Crime - Jealousy - Mistrust - Reconciliation - Friendship
The victim of the crime is a doll. Tracking down the evil-doer who so brutally damaged it, the twin detectives are unexpectedly caught up in a network of jealousy and mistrust involving their own classmates. When the perpetrator is discovered, everyone involved resolves their conflict with humor, honesty and forgiveness. This lesson in reconciliation is passed along to the reader in a suspenseful and amusing narrative. (9+) ☼
France (French) - 1997 - 118
Bernard, Fred (text)
Roca, François (illus.)
La reine des fourmis a disparu
(The queen of the ants has disappeared)
Paris: Albin Michel, 1996.  p.
Tropical forest - Ants - Queen - Odyssee - New York - Reunion - Conservation
Two red ants turn into detectives and comb the tropical forest to find their abducted queen, landing finally in an airplane bound for New York, where they finally find their missing ruler in a giant museum of natural history - being investigated by a researcher. The disproportional relationship between the tiny ants and their enormous adventure turns this into an enchanting story. The superrealistic illustrations give the scenes a fantastic, magical character. In the course of their adventures, many objective details about the tropical forest and its animal life are pointed out, serving to illuminate issues of nature conservation. (8+)
France (French) - 1997 - 119
Boujon, Claude (text/illus.)
La chaise bleu
(The blue chair)
Paris: L'École des loisirs, 1996.  p.
Desert - Hare - Dog - Chair - Play
There is no mistaking the laconic picture storytelling style used by Boujon, who died last year. A hare and a dog are taking a walk in the middle of a desert. A blue spot seen from the distance is discovered to be a chair. That is all it takes to have a romp, since the imagination does all the rest. Each tries to outdo the other in thinking up new scenes using the chair as a prop. Along comes an Arabian camel and puts an end to their fun with the categorical statement: a chair is meant to be sat in! So hare and dog move on, leaving the camel - sitting - to his boredom. (5+)
France (French) - 1997 - 120
Comte, Herbert (text)
Le Cabinet de Curiosité
(The curio cabinet)
Paris: Circonflexe, 1995. 90 p.
Curio - World travel
A collector opens up his curio cabinet to show what he has gathered during his world travels. One piece after the other is revealed in the photographs, while the text describes the origin, purpose and manner of acquisition with a sympathetic view toward the object and the people who made it. Many of them bear cultural significance, such as the little tablet of the Koran from Morocco, while others, such as the little fishbone wedge used for dog harnesses in Alaska, stimulate the imagination, or, like the spine of a shark from Mexico, highlight the exotic. For those who are willing, these many little objects open up the possiblity to encounter the pleasures of a multifaceted world. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 121
David, François (text)
Galeron, Henri (illus.)
Une petite flamme dans la nuit
(A little flame in the night)
Paris: Bayard, 1996. 105 p.
Concentration camp - Terror - Survival - Storytelling - Parable - Hope - Resistance
Night after night a woman whispers parable tales of terror and despotism in the ear of a child to help it go to sleep. The illustrations leave no doubt as to where these absurd situations take place: a high barbed wire fence with watch-towers, surrounding the barren grounds and barracks of a concentration camp. Each story follows upon a short conversation between the rebellious child and the woman, who hopes that the forced sleep will help the child endure the coming day. The parables describe the brutal tyranny of a despot long ago. Each ends with the fragile hope that the terror, though long lasting, will come to an end if the memory of resistance and freedom is kept alive. When on the twelvth night the woman does not return to their common plank bed, the child's stony heart falls away and it can cry again. In the following night, a younger child takes the woman's place, and the older one takes on the role of the woman, telling the same stories again. The illustrations for the individual parables are extraordinary in capturing the timeless, metaphoric nature of the stories. They possess a literary power of expression by revealing the grotesque-comical aspect of totalitarian terror, thus underlining its absurdity. (10+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 122
Didier, Jean (text/illus.)
Didier, Zad (text/illus.)
Zoum Chat de traîneau
(Zoum, the sled-cat)
Toulouse: Milan, 1996. 38 p.
Cat - Sled - Adventure - Lie - Storytelling
This picture book has several attractions to offer. It fulfills the need of children for spooky stories with a balanced mixture of fright and relief. And it uses the well-known storytelling perspective of Grandfather telling about days gone by. And, thirdly, it offers an aesthetic delight with full-paged, striking illustrations. The idea of making the storyteller a grandfather cat who sees no reason to stick too closely to the truth give the at once merry and spooky adventures a humorous coating. Who could imagine a cat playing the part of a sled-dog! (5+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 123
Douzou, Olivier (text)
Simon, Isabelle (illus.)
Autobus numéro 33
(Autobus No. 33)
Rodez: Éditions du Rouergue, 1996.  p.
Bus - Travel - Racial equality
The metaphor of the earth as boat in which we are all sitting inspired the illustrator to write this story about a little red bus which takes a journey around the whole world. Scattered throughout the continents are bus-stops at which a pair - in each case a human and an animal - are waiting for this modernday Noah's Ark. The photos of painted pottery figures portray the passengers, people of all races and ages in the company of an equally motley crowd of animals. The excerpts of a rudimentary world map help to give a geographical orientation. The humanistic message of this pretty little volume is quite subtle: there is no room for discrimination on this bus line. (7+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 124
L'envers du décor
(The reverse side of the scene)
Paris: Hachette Jeunesse, 1996. 192 p.
Unemployment - Homelessness - Housesquatting - Solidarity - Charity
Felix and his mother have fallen upon hard times. They take refuge in a house illegally occupied by people out of work and illegal immigrants. The reader feels drawn in by the narrator and her concern for the social disadvantaged, taking part in their motley crew until they are brutally driven apart by the house demolition. Any tendency to regard the house-squatting movement as idyllic is firmly counteracted by the illustrations. With an unsettling and at times even grotesque clarity, the pictures mirror the desolate situation of society's outsiders, testing the humanity of the reader in this confrontation with unvarnished reality. (13+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 125
Hans, Marie-Pierre (text/illus.)
Paris: Grasset-Jeunesse, 1996.  p.
Goldfish - House - Imitation - Family
When no one else is home, Mr. William, a goldfish, takes leave of his fishbowl. He looks like a blown-up red beach ball, so fat that only half of him fits on the horizontal double-pages. He makes use of everything he finds, shaving himself, trying on Father's necktie and cruising around in the car. This is a picture book to look at with the very youngest, for whom reading means pointing and naming the colorful, haptic objects. The background, with its apparent lumps and scraps of newspaper paper maché, ideal for little fingers to fiddle with, will appeal to the tactile senses as well. (2+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 126
Hellings, Colette (text)
Jacobs, Nadine (illus.)
Un bébé tombé du ciel
(A baby who fell from heaven)
Paris: Archimède, 1996. 30 p.
A baby giraffe falls indeed from heaven, since at birth it is dropped 2 meters to earth. In just a few minutes it can stand up and begin to suckle at its mother's udder and to discover the world. This picture book shows the experiences in the first few days of life, how it is accepted into the herd and attacked by a lioness. The impressive expanse of the African savannah is ever-present in the doublespread illustrations of this generously sized landscape-format picture book. A brief appendix supplies further information about giraffes, which are fairly underrepresented in information books. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 127
Jardin, Alexandre (text)
Derobe, Alain (photos)
de Broca, Alexandre (special effects)
Cybermaman ou le voyage extraordinaire au centre d'un ordinateur
(Cybermaman or the extraordinary journey to the center of a computer)
Paris: Gallimard, 1996. 64 p.
Computer - Virtual reality - Adventure
A writer, a photographer and a specialist for optical effects have collaborated here, using technical equipment to create a new style of photonovel (livre cinématographique). The plot involves a virtual journey into the inner workings of a personal computer. Three brothers and sisters head off into cyberspace with their head-mounted displays after their computer crashs in order to find their favorite program which contains pictures, mementos and voice recordings of their dead mother. The oversized glossy photographs (of this oversized book) bring to view the surrealist nature of virtual space, including anti-viruses, which resembles a very real and opulent hall of horrors. (7+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 128
Judes, Marie-Odile (text)
Bourre, Martine (illus.)
Paris: Père Castor Flammarion, 1996. 32 p.
Wolf - Father/Son - Career choice
Father Wolf is in despair over his young son who takes after no one else in the family. He prefers gardening to hunting! All efforts to re-educate him to the ways of a wolf fail miserably. But the joke is on Father Wolf. This animal family leads a very human-like life in the vivacious illustrations. The artist had great fun in hinting at the wolfs' nature of the inhabitants in the details of the furniture. In spite of the fundamental antagonism of the fatherson relationship, there is much love and tenderness to be seen. This allows the young reader, undisturbed by any sense of fear, to take delight in the mishaps of this clumsy father. (6+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 129
Nona des sables
(Nona of the desert)
Paris: Albin Michel, 1996. 40 p.
Algeria - Colonization - War - Family - Memory
A young girl searches with a passion for her own roots in the family genealogy. She presses her great-grandmother to recall her past in Africa, but the old woman buries herself in painful silence, recalling how her forbears had moved to Algeria as colonizers in the 19th century, only to return to France during the Algerian war. Nona has lost her roots and yearns to return to the mimosa and the desert. But the shame over all that took place in the course of colonization and war seals her mouth. The interaction of this detective work and resistance to memory is reflected in scraps of conversation. Reproductions of historical postcards from Algeria are stitched between the leaves of this large-sized album. (10+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 130
Korkos, Alain (text)
Truong, Marcelino (illus.)
En attendant Eliane
(Waiting for Elaine)
Paris: Syros, 1996. 75 p.
(Les uns les autres)
Jews - Algeria/Pogrom 1934 - Emigration - Paris/Deportation 1942
The publisher has established a series of highly literary novels which treats the events of the most recent past and present involving breaches of human rights and violence in multicultural conflicts. The novels' protagonists are fictional, but their historical contexts are authentic. This particular novel deals with an Arabic Jew from Algeria, the last of his family, who lived through the waves of anti-semitic discrimination both in his homeland and in exile in Paris. Alone one rainy evening he recalls in a moving soliloquy the events that led to his parents' and sister's deaths in Algeria and Germany. The author weaves an epic tale on several levels and helps the young reader to keep on with the story even when the narration may engender only revolt, shock and pain. (14+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 131
Lévy, Didier (text)
Galibour, Coralie (illus.)
Peut-on faire confiance à un crocodile affamé?
(Can you trust a hungry crocodile?)
Paris: Albin Michel Jeunesse, 1996.  p.
Toad - Crocodile - Journey - Trust - Intelligence - Friendship
The answer to the question posed in the title would seem to be: no! Especially if one is a good-natured toad travelling in a balloon with a crocodile whose friendship ends where his hunger begins. But the happy end of the journey of this very odd couple proves that with a little intelligence and sympathy an enjoyable coexistence is possible, despite the extreme differences. The lively colors and surprisingly amusing viewpoints in the various sized pictures convey the humor and wisdom of this story in a high-spirited manner. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 132
Merleau-Ponty, Claire (text)
Ballantine, Kevin (photos)
Sally et le voleur du rêve
(Sally and the thief of dreams)
Paris: Hatier, 1996. 60 p.
Australia - Aborigines - Painting - Tabu - Cultural gap - Adventure
The story of the aborigines and their nomad culture are caught up in the history of Sally and her family. After a taboo regarding the unique paintings of the tribes is broken, the resulting intrigue is used to elaborate on the rituals, the legends of life's origins. The fragile existence of this culture is vividly depicted, located on the breaking point between tradition and modernity, threatened with perversion by tourism and greedy profit. Scattered throughout the narrative are authentic ethnographic photos which also have the charm of intimate family memories. The documentary appendix provides supplemental details and summarizes the Aborigines' problems. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 133
Mets, Alan (text/illus.)
Je suis parti!
(I'm on my way!)
Paris: L'École des Loisirs, 1996. 36 p.
Cat - Night - Travel - Adventure
These travel adventures of a black cat produce a superb bedtime story. All the episodes take place at night in full-page, landscape format illustrations. Only one sentence is sufficient to explain each situation. Generous use of space and bold colors change the picture story from agitated to smooth lines, depending on the rise or decline in the drama of the scene. The lively eyes of the story's protagonists, who meet unexpectedly, have a language of their own. Peaceful cosiness prevails whenever you encounter a sleeper. (4+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 134
Lettres d'amour de 0 à 10
(Love letters from 0 to 10)
Paris: L'École des loisirs, 1996. 210 p.
Motherless child - Loneliness - Friendship - Joy of life
Ernest's mother died at his birth and his father left him to grow up with his grandmother, who lives almost completely immersed in memories of her past. As result, Ernest's life is sad and monotonous. But this changes overnight when Victoire, the new girl in his class who has an unlimited capacity for joy as well as 13 brothers, »adopts« him and awakens his lust for life. There is none too little comedy, but the story also gives room to fine psychological insights. The transformation which takes place in the lives of Ernest and his grandmother follows the well-proven maxim: One must first enjoy life, before preparing to die. (10+)
(Prix Totem Roman 1996)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 135
Morvan, Françoise (text)
Lapointe, Claude (illus.)
La gavotte du mille-pattes
(The gavotte of the centipede)
Arles: Actes Sud, 1996. 62 p.
Animals - Nonsense poetry
Children who enjoy the sounds of words and wordplay will be well-rewarded with this droll parade of animals. Inspired by the nonsense poems which describe a colorful bestiary in the absurdest situations, the illustrator has let his imagination run wild, trumping the text with even more nonsensical pictures. With souvereignity his full-paged illustrations dominate the narrow, upright format of this handy and prettily designed little book. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 136
Une sixième en accordéon
(The sixth-grade accordeon class)
Paris: Rageot-Éditeur, 1996. 92 p.
Gypsies - Differentness - Integration - Squatters
Feeling like good samaritans, the children of a sixth-grade class prepare to welcome Zoltan, a boy whose gypsy family has become squatters in the town's run-down city hall. In minutely recorded scenes, Zoltan's perceptive benchmate describes the ultimate failure of their attempts at integration. Even the teachers, who admire his talent on the accordeon and are portrayed as being unprejudiced, are unable to deal with his differentness, expressed in apathy and reserve. In the end, protests from the citizenry lead to a solution of »he gypsy problem« when the police enforce their eviction. (9+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 137
Place, François (text)
Besse, Christophe (illus.)
Le camion fantôme
Paris: Hachette Jeunesse, 1996.  p.
Old man - Retirement home - Mouse - Friendship - Helpfulness
When Monsieur Verchou, the vegetable seller, retires and moves into a retirement home, the four little mice who, like little elves, had always secretly loaded up his cart for the market, are sad. With cunning tricks, abetted by their friends, they manage to restore the run-down wagon and remove their protégé from the home. Large pictures in landscape format, drawn in vibrant colors and contours, reveal in abundant, realistic details the stages of this fantastical tale. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 138
Prigent, Andrée (text/illus.)
(Pouloute, the hippopotamus)
Paris: Les Éditions Didier, 1996.  p.
Hippopotamus - Island - Sea - Colors - Painting
On a very tiny round island in the deep blue sea there is a tall chimney that looks like a cake made with an upside pail in a sandbox. A blue hippopotamus comes along every day with a little wagon full of painting tools and paints fish or starfish on its wall. Rain and moonlight turn them into lively animals that splash about in the water. Changing perspectives and picture segments lend the story its charm and surprise effects. Nothing can spoil this miniature, carefree world of play. The only question left unanswered is what color the fish will be painted tomorrow. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 139
Une image de Lou
(A picture of Lou)
Paris: Gallimard, 1996. 330 p.
Albert-Lasard, Louise (1885-1969) - Biography - Painting
The highly unusual life of the headstrong artist, Louise Albert-Lasard, who is usually remembered only for her friendship with Rilke, is depicted in this biography. Driven by her artistic vocation and an iron will, she overcame many obstacles which arose from her middle-class Jewish background and a handicap in walking. Eccentric and independent, her chosen life-style led from Munich, Paris, and Berlin, where she stood in close contact with the avant-garde of the art world. Spanning two world wars and travels around the world, her life took place in a lively epoch of intellectual and world history which will be of great interest to adolescent readers. (16+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 140
La jeune fille au balcon
(The young girl on the balcony)
Paris: Seuil, 1996. 148 p.
ISBN 2 02 024800-X
Algeria/France - Family - Integration - Islam - Fundamentalism - Women's role
This ensemble of six tales gives a multifaceted perspective of the long-suffering and difficult relationship between Algeria and France. The fates of several persons are chosen to show the old and new wounds which stem from the colonial wars and years of immigration, from the current conflicts of identity and problems of integration, from the collision between modern times and religious tradition. The author, daughter of Algerian-French parents, gives a penetrating view of the current civil war in Algeria. Hers is the view of the protagonists and thus in immediate contact with the suffering victims. (13+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 141
Serres, Alain (text)
Mellinette, Martine (illus.)
Il y a le monde
(There is the world)
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon: Cheyne éditeur, 1996.  p.
Poetry/French - Travel - Observation - Life experience - Humanity
This bibliophile edition contains a collection of travel poetry written over many years. In only a few sentences the sensually recorded experiences are crystallized into an image, impressions into thoughts. Serres's travels took him from Mexico to Egypt. Brief, red-lettered lyrical notes, cross paths with graphic pen-drawings in orange and black, setting accents and awakening associations of leaves, birds, tracks and silhouettes. The fresh, very personal words reveal the author's power of perception and experience of life, for which young readers will be receptive. (12+)
France (French) - 1998 - 112
Burko-Falcman, Berthe (text)
(The hidden child)
Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1997. 186 p.
France/World War II - Persecution of the Jews - Childhood - Identity - Bereavement - Postwar life
During the Nazi occupation of France the Jewish child Esther is sent to live in the country and thus becomes the sole survivor of her immediate family. Her host family has her baptised and gives her the name Estelle. After the war she lives in an orphanage until an aunt in Paris takes her in. As a teenager, once again called Esther, she is painfully aware of the fragile balance in her life. Her diary reflects her efforts to find her own identity by going beyond her individual role within the collective Jewish fate, and thus establish a way of life for herself. (15+)
France (French) - 1998 - 113
Cabral, Tristan (text)
Mellinette, Martine (illus.)
Mourir à Vukovar
(To die in Vukovar)
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon: Cheyne, 1997. 45 p.
Bosnia/War - Poetry
The poet Tristan Cabral experienced the war in Bosnia with his own eyes. In simple texts he captures images, faces, scribbled slogans on walls and gravestones. His impressions reflect the absurdity of war and the vast reaches of human brutalization which even encompassed children as victims and as witnesses. The book design uses yellow marbled paper resembing crumbled walls as a backdrop for traces of graffiti containing the last words of the murdered for the survivors. (13+)
France (French) - 1998 - 114
Casterman, Geneviève (text/illus.)
Crowter, Kitty (illus.)
Copain des peintres
(Comrade of painters)
Toulouse: Milan, 1997. 294 p.
Painting - Aesthetics
This handbook is a successful approach to practical, aesthetic and cognitive art appreciation. It tempts the reader to take up painting and subtly even trains the eye to look. The practical instructions are stimulating and easy to follow with the help of photos and humorous illustrations. Reprints of children's art are presented in the same manner as works from »real« painters, preferably modern painters. The child can compare and learn from the masters. He or she can develop without inhibitions and activate a perspective on art through his or her own activity. (9+)
France (French) - 1998 - 115
Dieterlé, Nathalie (text/illus.)
Où es-tu, Lulu?
(Lulu, where are you?)
Paris: Kaléidoskope, 1997.  p.
Love - Play - Fear - Lost/Found
Any child will be able to identify immediately with Lulu, the little crocodile child, who also loves that wonderful game of hide-and-seek, loves the joy of being found again by mama or papa. Surely there is no better proof of being loved. This ceremony takes a surprising turn when Lulu wanders off too far away and gets into danger. Because Lulu's fear of being alone and lost is a universal experience, every child will enjoy the way Lulu's homecoming is portrayed here with much charm and amusement. (3+)
France (French) - 1998 - 116
Paris: Rageot, 1997. 186 p.
Computer - Software - Murder - Family problems
A series of mysterious deaths have occurred on the super computer Omnia 3. Does the software have the power to kill? The hero of this murder mystery risks playing a virtual murder game. Computer freaks will appreciate how she manages to solve the technical part of the case. The dangerous perfection of virtual weapons point out the risks of the new media, while the classical format of the solution reveals a human tragedy with all the traditional themes of love, coldheartedness, greed, disappointment and revenge. (14+)
(Prix Tam-Tam 1997)
France (French) - 1998 - 117
Hoestlandt, Jo (text)
Novi, Nathalie (illus.)
La géante Solitude
(The giant Loneliness)
Paris: Syros, 1998.  p.
Differentness - Exclusion - Loneliness - God - Humanity - Suffering
Children who feel lonely, misunderstood, and unloved will be able to identify with the ostracized girl giant. They can suffer with her as she travels around the world. In the end they will both be distracted by the pain and suffering of the many other people they encounter. Whether God exists is answered in a mysterious, thought-provoking picture. The illustrations reflect the melancholy condition of loneliness. But the conclusion shows that this is not only negative. The sad child giant is changed into a beautiful, lonely island, loved by many people. (6+)
France (French) - 1998 - 118
Le Rochais, Marie-Ange (text/illus.)
De l'eau fraîche pour Louise
(Fresh water for Louise)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1997. 37 p.
Water cycle - Ecology - Purification of water - Responsibility
For over four million years water has circulated on Earth in a balanced cycle and as the cradle of life has guaranteed the world's continued existence. It is easy to understand how this cycle operates and what is involved in keeping it going when one accompanies father and daughter from the bathtub to the ocean in this realistic, fascinating illustrated information book. The informal question-and-answer dialogues are convincingly employed to show how we all must share responsibility and act accordingly when dealing with this indispensible elixir. (8+)
France (French) - 1998 - 119
Lévêque, Anne-Claire (text)
Corazza, Lynda (illus.)
Attention à la marche!
(Watch your step!)
Rodez: Rouergue, 1997.  p.
Street - Passers-by - Movement - Fun
A young girl amuses herself by watching the passers-by from her balcony over the street. Funny, grotesque-looking images depict how weird their gait looks from above. Inspired by these observations, the girl invents a different style of walking for every day of the week, turning walking into clown antics which become rather tricky to perform in traffic. The loosely rhymed text follows her criss-cross movements all about the page. These funny scenes may encourage the reader to invent other new ways of walking. (5+)
France (French) - 1998 - 120
Mettler, René (text/illus.)
La nature au fils des mois
(Nature through the months)
Paris: Gallimard, 1997.  p.
Landscape - Nature observation - Seasons
For a full year an artist casts his eye on the same landscape, drawing twelve large-sized pictures showing the changes in nature. The reader will be enchanted by the details - the deep snow tracks in Febuary give way to springtime blooms in March. Tractor and mower follow. The meadow on the river fills with campers and empties itself again. Animals and plants are equally involved in the landscape, just as are rainstorms, fog and the changing colora of the vegetation. Foldout information sheets with details about climate, flora and fauna enhance this picturebook perspective on nature. (8+)
France (French) - 1998 - 121
Montella, Christian de
Le premier homme sur la lune
(The first person on the the moon)
Paris: Fayard, Librairie Arthème, 1997. 104 p.
Growing up - Sexuality - Responsibility - Humanity - Longing
Night after night a 14-year old boy observes a girl on the balcony across the street. He is shy, reflective and at times filled with self-contempt. The girl, who has a bad reputation, has also been observing him. When she unexpectedly pays him a call, their encounter leads him to examine himself more closely. Hesitantly he becomes aware of his own sensuality and recognizes in the girl a still child-like purity despite her physical maturity. He understands intuitively that longings encompass more than merely sexual desire. (13+)
France (French) - 1998 - 122
Ma vie a changé
(My life has changed)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1997. 180 p.
Divorce - Mother/Son - Love - Unconsciousness - Unreality
The first-person narrator is a working mother with an eight-year old son. She manages her complicated daily life pragmatically and with grim humor, critical of herself, attentive to her son. Unknown to them, a little elf has moved in who reeks havoc with practical jokes, magic and mix-ups. The depiction of the very real presence of this unreal being is a masterpiece of narration. The scenes shift from comic absurdity to touching sentimentality. The reader readily accepts the unbelievable and senses that the feelings and needs of mother and child are crystallized in the elf. And with its help, they achieve a positive change in their own lives. (12+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 123
Le livre des créatures
(The book of creatures)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1997. 120 p.
Myth - Legend - Supernatural
The myths and legends of all the cultures of this world tell about fabulous beings, monsters, and spirits which bring either blessings or curses to mankind. Nadja provides us with portraits and short narrative characterizations so that we can recognize them when we meet them. Presented on pitch-black paper they appear at once fascinating and horrifying. The artist makes rich use of earthy tones, appropriate to those monstrous products of our fears and premonitions. The texts offer sober suggestions based on traditional wisdom about how to escape the often destructive demonism or how to capture the rarer magical powers of such creatures. In the appendix a table gives a geographic overview of the different cultural sources. This most unusual book goes along well with the current fashion of horror stories by satisfying the desire for the thrills of shock and disgust in a way that is only made possible through the rich imaginative powers of all mankind. (13+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 124
Noël, Geneviève (text)
Le Goff, Hervé (illus.)
Je m'ennuie dans mon lit
(I am so bored in my bed)
Paris: Père Castor Flammarion, 1997.  p.
Sleeplessness - House mouse
It is midnight. The mouse child can't sleep. She wakes up mother mouse and then begins the ritual of diversionary tactics to avoid having to go to bed that every child knows so well: going to the potty, singing, playing, hunger and thirst. In the end slumber comes of its own accord. But now mother mouse is wide awake and gleefully repeats what the child had been through. Now it is father mouse's turn to help bring on sleep. One can well imagine how the story continues, by going once again page for page through the humorous illustrations of the mouse house. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 125
Perec, Georges (text)
Pommaux, Yvan (illus.)
Je me souviens
Paris: Éditions du Sorbier, 1997.  p.
France/1950s - Memory - Everyday life
In 1978 Georges Perec (1936-1982) published a collection of 480 sentences which began with the phrase »I remember...« and named things which were characteristic of the everyday life and experiences of his age group (today's grandparents). Twenty of these sentences have been chosen by Yvan Pommaux and illustrated in his typical comic-book style. This album invites browsing and offers a wealth of authentic details which give the older readers pleasure of rediscovery and show the younger ones a quite foreign, long forgotten way of life. (6+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 126
Piquemal, Michel (text)
Bloch, Serge (illus.)
Nul en pub
(Failed in advertising)
Paris: Rue du Monde, 1997. 36 p.
Consumption - Advertising
Ludo is derided by his friends because he is completely ignorant of campaign slogans and brandnames. In order to redeem himself, he studies long and hard and even wins a silly game contest. But the main prize turns out to be a hoax. Disgusted, Ludo can at last return to his favorite hobby, fishing with his grandfather. The burlesque watercolor drawings, which are interspersed like ads on television, carica-ture the idiocy of advertising. The peppy brush strokes become more subtle when they give expres-sion to the emotional sensitivity of the child. (6+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 127
Prual-Reavis, Roberto (illus.)
Une idée de chien. Dans les air
(A dog's idea. In the air)
Paris: Les Éditions Didier, 1997.  p.
Drawing - Illusion - Dog - Bird - Flight
Attractive line drawings without text tell this circular story with no ending. A dog gazes after a bird. Then it jumps on the back of the next bird flying by and they land on an island where a bird magician draws the dog a pair of wings with which it can fly back to where it started. Here it turns over its wings to a chicken who trots by and gazes after it flying away. The final image is identical to the first; the story can begin again - in the same way or differently, wherever the inspiration of the reader-child leads. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 128
Serres, Alain (text)
Blondon, Hervé (illus.)
Un grand-père transformidable
(A transformidable grandfather)
Paris: Albin Michel, 1997.  p.
Grandfather - Grandson - Love - Imagination - Metamorphosis
The perspectives of the illustrations in this oversized book parallel the nearly unlimited willingness of the grandfather to fulfill the wishes of his grandson, who transforms him into a dinosaur, a giant apple pie, etc. The results, depicted in bizarre, earthy toned dreamy images, are always reversed with a kiss. But when grandfather is turned into an intergalactic warrior against his will, the reversal fails. Yet in the happy ending the two of them together again without the help of any magic. (7+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 129
Taravant, Jacques (text)
Sís, Peter (illus.)
Le marchand d'ailes
(The wing dealer)
Paris: Grasset & Fasquelle, 1997.  p.
Bird - Wings - Angel
The lovely idea that the good lord forgot to give birds wings when he created the world and thus had to send out a messenger boy to distribute them is the ideal material for this well-known illustrator. His favorite figures are the messengers between two worlds. Sís gives the young wing dealer an aura of pure naivity and sends him into a wide, unpopulated world, depicted in gentle tones on a plain background in his inimitable pointilistic style, giving it the virgin freshness of the first day of creation. The last pair of wings let the young messenger become the first angel, bringing genesis to its completion. (4+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 130
Tullet, Hervé (text/illus.)
Comment j'ai sauvé ma maman
(How I saved my mother)
Paris: Seuil, 1997.  p.
Mother - Everyday life - Bad luck - Sympathy - Love
Today is mother's bad luck day. The turbulent, chaotic pictures, rendered in the style of a child's drawings, recapitulate how everything she tries to do goes wrong. What fun it is to watch. At each turn of the page round peep holes make for new surprises. Every time the sympathetic child tries to cheer mother up, the confusion only becomes greater. But with a little cuddling, everything turns out well in the end. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 131
Wagneur, Alain (text)
Fleutiaux, Pierrette (text)
La maison des voyages
(The house of travel)
Paris: Gallimard, 1997. 102 p.
Puberty - Father - Daughter - Childhood memories
Sonia is in the middle of puberty. She is moody and feels lonely. Her mother is long dead and she thinks her father, a sea captain, doesn't understand the younger generation. Quite by chance, during a trip they take together, her father returns to the scene of his youth. Memories come rushing back and he tells her, at first shyly and hesitantly, about himself, his dreams, his friends and his first love. Sonia listens with growing interest and learns that her father, through his own experiences, has known the same feelings and problems and can thus understand his daughter. (13+)
France (French) - 1999 - 117
Badaoui, Abdel Kader (illus.)
Hije gusar = Devinettes tchadiennes
(Riddles from Chad)
Saint-Maur: Sépia, 1996. 127 p.
(Carnets du Tchad)
(Text in Arabic and French)
Chad - Riddles
In Africa riddles are part of the traditional literary genre of high culture and play an important role in the mental and visual development of children. The Chad riddles, in the form of pictures and short twoline stories, depict experiences from daily life using analogy and symbolism and give answer to children's questions about their own bodies, the environment, the animals, human life, world and cosmos, birth and death. These 120 riddles written in Arabic transcription and with French translation form a well-rounded collection.The very well-arranged, strikingly abstract pen-and-ink illustrations take their inspiration from Arabic calligraphy and the heavily stilized rock paintings of the Tibesti Mountains in Chad. (10+) ☆
France (French) - 1999 - 118
Le voyage clandestin
(The illegal journey)
Paris: Seuil, 1998. 182 p.
Algerian - Paris - Illegal immigration - Prison - Islam
This first novel by the journalist Loïc Barrière takes up the current issues of illegal immigration. A young Algerian boy gets into France with the help of professional smugglers. Naive, determined and brave, he manages to find his way, but finally is caught and put into prison. His situation, representative of many others, gives the reader cause to test his or her own unprejudiced views of »the problem of foreigners.« One also finds a testimony for a genuine Islamic life that differs radically from the fundamentalism that dominates media reports. (14+) ☆
France (French) - 1999 - 119
Les berceuses des grands musiciens. Les vingt plus belles berceuses du grand répertoire classique
(The lullabies of great musicians. The 20 most beautiful lullabies of the great repertory of classical music)
Paris: Gallimard Jeunesse [et al.], 1998. 47 p. + 1 CD
Lullaby - Classical music
The brochure which accompanies this CD of lullabies is attractive for several reasons. It offers the original texts of the lullabies along with French translations and pictures of cradle scenes, nursing mothers, and children in swaddling clothes. There is no less variety to be found in the images than in the diversity of the songs. How easy it is to place Brunhoff's classical picture book »Babar« next to such icons of art history as Leonardo da Vinci's »St. Anne with Mary and the child Jesus« from the Louvre. Interwoven between the pictures are ethnological notes about historical customs regarding diapering and pacifiers. (6+)
France (French) - 1999 - 120
Billioud, Jean-Michel (text)
Cachin, Claudia (illus.)
Le rêveur de bicyclette
(The bicycle dreamer)
Paris: Père Castor Flammarion, 1998. 26 p.
China - Bicycle - Dream
Red, the dominant color of this picture book, represents China, the setting for this story. Red are the lanterns on the flyleaf. Red the color the little bike should be that the father of young Tsin promised him for his birthday. Red is the square where the other children race around on their bikes. But now the father is dead and the dream would be, too, if friends hadn't pooled their resources and fulfilled Tsin's dream. The illustrations have a nostalgic flair, making use of the perspectives typical of wood-cut art. (5+)
France (French) - 1999 - 121
Billout, Guy (text/illus.)
Il y a quelque chose qui cloche
(Something gone awry)
Paris: Harlin Quist, 1998.  p.
Reality - Paradox
One of the first new titles by the re-established publishing house Edition Harlin Quist caters to the pleasure taken by readers, both young and old, in optical puzzles. In oversized, cool pictures cities, parks, seas and mountains become showcases for impossibilities of nature. With a surrealistic wink, our perceptions of reality are turned upside down. The resulting uncertainties are resolved in the humorous captions, as for example in the picture with a ocean liner cruising through the desert, decks filled with passengers in lifesaving vests, with a coastline on the horizon and the tell-tale caption: »Sea a-hoy!« (6+)
France (French) - 1999 - 122
Bloch, Muriel (text)
Bourre, Martine (illus.)
Le loup et la mésange
(The wolf and the titmouse)
Paris: Didier Jeunesse, 1998.  p.
(À petits petons)
Wolf - Titmouse - Luck - Trickster
The song and story tradition of southwestern France includes the merry chorus rhymes of the bird that with a bit of luck escapes from a wolf's stomach. The haptic and richly imaginative illustrations are elaborate constructions consisting of a heterogeneous range of materials such as knitting wool for the titmouse, dried leaves, ferns, cork, brushes and buttons for the bugs and worms on the titmouse tree, and tin foil and electronic circuitry for the claws and bowels of the wolf. (4+) ☼
France (French) - 1999 - 123
Brami, Elisabeth (text)
Le Grand, Claire (illus.)
Le doudou de Tiloulou
(Tiloulou's cuddling blanket)
Aubenas: Magnier, 1998.  p.
Cuddling blanket - Lullaby
Everything that rhymes with the French word for cuddling blanket (»doudou«) finds a place in these illustrated good-night verses. The focal point is a small child who masters all his child-sized worries, whether fear of the dark or conflicts with parents and playmates, only with the aid of that irreplaceable accessory. The final picture presages a day in the future when an older child is finally able to manage without the blanket. A comfort for all parents who may find their darling's dingy rag a thorn in the side. (4+)
France (French) - 1999 - 124
Cantin, Marc (text)
Perdreau, Brigitte (illus.)
Le meilleur papa du monde
(The best father in the world)
Paris: Grasset-Jeunesse, 1998. 46 p.
(Lampe de poche ; 18)
Father - Megalomania - Tall-tale
This grotesque story has all the features that appeal to a beginning reader. Its short chapters and generous illustration contribute considerably to the fast-paced sensational plot. The hero of the story is a small, portly, conservatively dressed father who lives the life of a megomanic to the full. By insisting on gigantic proportions for everything, he manages to make the whole family's life most complicated: windows can only be reached on stilts, going from room to room only with rollerskates. In the end all are delighted when a giant dog causes their palace-like domicile to collapse. (7+) ☼
France (French) - 1999 - 125
Desplechin, Marie (text)
Morice, Jean-Claude (montage)
Comment j'ai marié mon frère
(How I got my brother married)
Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux/ Calman Lévy, 1998.  p.
(La petite collection)
Manet, Edouard (1832-1883) - Painting
A cycle of twelve oil paintings by Edouard Manet, presented in excellent reproductions, is supplemented with a narrative text in diary form depicting a young woman's attempts to get her brother married. This imaginary scenario offers an easy, amusing entry into Manet's portraits of fashionable young Parisians, enticing the beholder - yet without leading by the nose - into an intensive study of Impressionist masterpieces. (12+)
France (French) - 1999 - 126
Douzou, Olivier (text/illus.)
Rodez: Éd. du Rouergue, 1998.  p.
Tricycle - Prank
On each page there is nothing more than a scribbled tricycle. It belongs to Tom, the text says. What he does with it can be seen by watching the tricycle's trailer. From one picture to the next the pile of things in it grows, filled with items he has pinched from other members of the family: grandpa's crutches, baby's pacifier, papa's car keys, etc. The single lines of text humorously reveal the results of these losses for the owners. The uncomplicated, sprightly little pictures are ideal for shared reading between children and adults because they readily give rise to riddlesolving and story-making. (4+)
France (French) - 1999 - 127
Dubost, Jean-Pascal (text)
Couprie, Katy (illus.)
(This is raven)
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon: Cheyne, 1998. 61 p.
(Poèmes pour grandir)
Raven - Animal study - Poetry
Gentle humor pervades this short chronical of the unusual companionship between a poet and a young raven who has fallen out its nest. The attempt to adopt the raven is recorded here, accompanied by an ironical commentary on man-animal relations. Through his unpredictable actions the bird acquires a personality of his own that resists being integrated in the daily life of a human. Accented by black-andwhite silhouetted illustrations, the poet offers richly lyrical variations on the theme »raven«. (12+)
France (French) - 1999 - 128
Dutheil, Florence (text)
Fellner, Henri (illus.)
Le petit livre pour dire non à l'intolérance et au racisme
(The little book about how to say no to intolerance and racism)
Paris: Bayard poche / Astrapi, 1998. 29 p.
(Le petit livre pour dire non ; 2 (Bayard poche))
Intolerance - Racism - Protest
This thin paperback volume offers sound advice for all situations in which a person becomes aware of the differences between people. It begins in the family and ends at school and in public, where members of different ethnic groups are likely to meet. Comic-style drawings with balloon captions depict typical, ordinary scenes in two variations: negative-intolerant and positive-praiseworthy. The texts, which are not only for children, contain well-founded and easy-to-do suggestions for overcoming and avoiding intolerance and racism. (7+) ☆ ☼
France (French) - 1999 - 129
Elèves de Pascal Paquet, Collège du centre, Dir. de l'Enseignement de Mayotte (text)
Elèves de Patrice Cujo, Collège du centre (illus.)
Un étrange marriage
(An unusual marriage)
Paris: Éd. du Baobab/Servédit, 1997. 17 p.
(Collection grain d'encre)
Magician - Witch - Punishment - Transformation
In the Savannah there once lived a witch. She married a magician. They took in a lost child, but one day the witch devoured it. In punishment, the magician transformed her into a Baobab tree that one still sees standing today. College students from Mayotte (one of Comoro Islands off the coast of Mozambique) have written this story down in very effective laconicsm and illustrated it with animal motifs and ornamental patterns in the style of their folk art. (6+) ☆
France (French) - 1999 - 130
Godard, Alex (text/illus.)
Paris: Albin Michel Jeunesse, 1998. 43 p.
Antilles - Fisherman - Poverty - Family/Separation - Leave-taking
The over-sized illustrations of this picture book authentically capture the picturesque world of the Antilles. The young girl Cècette lives with her grandparents, a poor, illiterate fisher family, on Guadeloupe. After her father was lost at sea, her mother had to move to a distant city to find work. Cècette is allowed to visit her during the school holidays. Taking leave of her grandparents is a moving moment and reflects the other side of life on the beautiful island - in order to escape from its material poverty, one must leave behind the people one loves. (6+) ☆ ☼
France (French) - 1999 - 131
Henry, Jean-Marie (ed.)
Vautier, Mireille (illus.)
Tour de terre en poèsie. Anthologie multilingue de poèmes du monde
(Around the world through poetry. A multilingual anthology of poems from around the world)
Paris: Rue du Monde, 1998. 62 p.
Mankind has written poetry in over five thousand languages. The small selection, presented here in the original language and in French, has been taken from an immeasurable treasury. It is accompanied by a variety of different scripts. This lyrical journey around the world reflects the wide diversity and differences between people, and yet often reveals an astonishing affinity that transcends great cultural and geographical distances. The refreshing layout and naive, richly allusive drawings make the pages a delight to the eye. (8+) ☆
France (French) - 1999 - 132
Hol, Coby (text/illus.)
La naissance de la lune
(The birth of the moon)
Paris: Hatier, 1998.  p.
Moon - Animals
This simple animal story gives young picture book enthusiasts an explanation of the moon as the reflector of the sun and how it waxes and wanes in the heavenly skies. The paper collage illustrations capture the magic that the night-time star exerts on small animal and will appeal to the tactile sense of children, enticing them to discover the moon for themselves through their identification with the animal protagonists. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1999 - 133
Mwankumi, Dominique (text/illus.)
La pêche à la marmite
(The catch of fish with the pot)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1998. 37 p.
Congo - Fishing - Rural life
Two hundred kilometers from Kinshasa there is a fishing village called Panu. In the rainy period the river is overflowing with fish. Kumi and his friends set out to fish. It is not without danger. Suddenly a crocodile approaches. Fortunately, Kumi is alert enough to scare it off. The luminous power of these illustrations of this true story which capture the lively experiences of Congolese children let the reader know that these are scenes from the childhood of the Congolese painter now living in Brussels. Parallel to the story, the mood of the story is unfolded as the color tones shift the yellow of the hot midday to the shadowy hues of evening and nighttime. The reader is transported into a world of childhood far beyond the routine of school-days and safety-inspected playgrounds. A brief afterword describes the current living conditions of Congolese fishermen and their families. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 1999 - 134
Ottenheimer, Laurence (conception)
Truong, Marcelino (illus.)
Une journée à Hanoi
(One day in Hanoi)
Paris: Hachette Jeunesse, 1997.  p.
Hanoi - Family life - Daily routine - Traditions/Modern life
The seven landscape-sized tableaus show a day in the life of the family Tran in bustling Hanoi. The traditional and modern ways of life are intermingled. One observes ceremonies of ancestor worship taking place adjacent to relics from the French colonial period, such Baguette from the bakery or steam engines. The recent past is called to mind by a passer-by crippled during the war. Ricksha drivers, apparently unemployed intellectuals, read while waiting for customers. Illnesses are also in evidence. The extreme closeness of the living quarters is made relative by the unperturbed cheerfulness of the residents. In an appendix there is a photodocumentary afterword. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1999 - 135
La pluie comme elle tombe
(Raindrops keep falling)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1998. 179 p.
Boy/Girl - Holiday camp - Puberty - Communication problems
In alternating inner monologues, a girl and a boy reflect upon their experiences at a holiday camp. Both loners, they hate the way their social activities are strictly organized. Although the girl makes an effort to win the boy as a friend, their monologues never manage to become one dialogue. Each remains the focus of his or her own thoughts. The casual style of teenaged jargon only appears to cover up each one's inability to communicate, and especially the boy's nearly pathological introversion. The compelling literary rendering of each protagonist's inner life involves the reader in the oppressive disasters of unsuccessful encounters in numerous variations. (14+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1999 - 136
Roger, Marie-Sabine (text)
Roca, François (illus.)
A la vie, à la vie...
(To life, to life...)
Paris: Nathan, 1998. 118 p.
(Pleine Lune ; 83 : Roman réaliste)
Illness - Pain - Fantasy/Reality - Dying
The young protagonist of this novel knows that he will die soon. The narrative describes his last days from his point of view. Gentle dialogues with his mother and fantasy games with his neighbor, an old sea captain and great storyteller, intermingle with the nightmares of pain, feverish dreams and longings. The illustrations done in black-and-white-and-grey maintain a balance between distorted and realistic drawing, in keeping with the pulse beat of this invalid story, in which the fatal end of the child is experienced as a happy embarkment as ship's mate on the captain's pirate schooner. (10+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1999 - 137
Sadeler, Joël (text)
Robin, Ségolène (illus.)
(The shared child)
Chaillé-Sous-Les-Ormeaux: Dé bleu, 1998. 47 p.
(Le farfadet bleu)
Father/Child - Poetry
On the title page of this poetry collection on the theme of father and child one sees two little houses. They belong to mother and father who live separated. Between the houses there is a narrow foot-bridge. The child is standing there with a heart »between two doors.« The poems speak of the bitterness of a double- life, but also from all-absorbing game, day-dream phantasies and having fun. From his adult point of view, the father sensitively observes the charm and incalculable self-reliant nature of his child. (12+)
(Prix Poésie Jeunesse, 1997)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1999 - 138
Au cinéma Lux
(In Cinema Lux)
Paris: Syros Jeunesse, 1998. 74 p.
Cinema - Blindness - First love
The logical explanation for the gentle narrative tone of this novel is found only in the final pages when the reader learns that both protagonists, a young girl and young man, are blind. The unbiased reader encounters them in the cinema - a very unusual place, considering their handicap. As members of a film club, they get emotionally involved week for week, side by side, in each screen story. Shy and with tender deference they become closer friends, their accidental acquaintanceship turns into love. The happy ending is moving and shows an astonishing zest for life that is beyond any form of pity. (13+)
France (French) - 2000 - 113
Barnaud, Jean-Marie (text)
Mellinette, Martine (illus.)
Le poète et la méchante humeur
(The poet and ill-humor)
LeChambon-sur-Lignon: Cheyne, 1999. 44 p.
(Poèmes pour grandir)
Poetry - Everyday life - Mood change
To begin the day in ill-humor is just as strenuous for the poet as for anyone else. In a casual tone he comments upon the banal stages of a day from getting up in the morning to riding in the car in the rain. Imperceptibly the ordinariness and triviality of things gain a scent, perceptions sharpen, a mood arises from the elements of a big city portrait. This record of moods is illustrated and accentuated with colored lines that run across the pages, at first dark then increasingly lighter. (12+)
France (French) - 2000 - 114
Haïti, la perle nue
(Haiti, the naked pearl)
Châteauneuf-le-Rouge: Vents d'ailleurs, 1999. 93 p.
Haiti - Ecology - Census
Haiti, once the richest colony in the world, is one of the prime examples of how ecological balance is being destroyed on this planet. Overexploitation of land, over-population, deforestation, poverty and political dictatorship have completely exhausted the resources of the so-called »Pearl of the Antilles«. This richly illustrated paperback awakens an appreciation for the interplay of history and environment, and calls for solidarity among the readers as residents of a common world. The documentation is clearly organized by sociopolitical themes and interspersed with folk tales that reveal amazing parallels to the topic just treated, despite being set at the level of myth and legend. (10+) ☆
France (French) - 2000 - 115
Battut, Éric (text/illus.)
Au pied de mon arbre
(At the foot of my tree)
Toulouse: Milan, 1999.  p.
Tree - Life
Over the course of many years a tree changes its face. For each season there are different games and festivities, rural scenes and moments of happiness in the lives of the people who visit it - whether for May Day dancing, a romantic tryst in the shade, or apple harvesting. As a motto for each scene on the full-paged, naïve-style tree pictures there is a line of poetry, accompanied by a small detail sketch. When leafing through all the pictures, certain parallels become meaningful - as time elapses for the tree over the course of a year, so it elapses in the life of a person. The poetic charm of this book will enchant both children and adults. (6+)
France (French) - 2000 - 116
Ma mère m'épuise
(My mother wears me out)
[Paris]: Hachette Jeunesse, 1999. 157 p.
(Le livre de poche ; 696 : Jeunesse : Senior)
Mother/Daughter - Racism - Protest action - Citizens' action
This story is written in a peppy style that reflects the busy daily life of a girl living alone with her mother. It covers everything from love life to community events. In a comical reversal of roles the daughter often plays the part of protector for her panic-stricken mother. When a new, rightwing oriented city administration tries to boycott the move of the library, where the mother is employed, the daughter feels it her duty to find a solution. She joins together with one of her classmates, who lets the xenophobic slogans found about town look ridiculous by making minor changes to them. He is the one who advises her to start up a citizen campaign for the library. (11+)
France (French) - 2000 - 117
(The trouble party)
Paris: Rageot, 1999. 151 p.
(Collection cascade : Pluriel)
Family conflict - Self-fulfillment - Puberty
Thirteen-year old Camille and 18-year old Laurent enjoy the undivided love of their divorced mother Anne up to the day that Anne's new friend, the painter Theo, moves in with them. Their family life, at first enrichened by Theo's presence, becomes increasingly complicated by his style of life and his demands for time alone with Anne. Told from Camille's perspective, the novel describes how the two teenagers resist Theo's influence on their lives and thus cast their mother into a dilemma. Dramatic arguments reveal the different points of view of the children and adults, making it clear that there is no brilliant solution for their common life. The novel has a correspondingly realistic ending - Laurent moves out on his own and Camille stays behind, more mature but still pessimistic. (12+)
France (French) - 2000 - 118
Blake, Stephanie (text/illus.)
Maman, pourquoi tu m'aimes?
(Mama, why do you love me?)
Paris: Albin Michel Jeunesse, 1999.  p.
New baby - Jealousy
The jealousy of older children toward newborn siblings who seem to monopolize the attention of their mother is a classical problem of childhood. This picture book heroine is stricken with just this affliction. Over and over again she devises new situations to prove to her mother how much better, more clever, and more loveable she, the reasonable child, is in comparison to that still so dumb infant. The droll, large-sized pictures take a disarmingly humorous view on her emotional sufferings and lead to a scene of tender intimacy in which the mother makes all further efforts superfluous by assuring the child that it is loved just for being itself. (2+)
France (French) - 2000 - 119
Bruel, Christian (text)
Claveloux, Nicole (illus.)
Paris: Être, 1999.  p.
One toy after the other is piled up on a wobbling tower that tilts from side to side, until it collapses with a great crash-boom. There are guaranteed to be delighted laughs of the small toddler when this page is reached at every new »reading« of this little book, whose illustrations have the colorful, haptic charm of baby toys. The text is spun further with each additional toy, synchronous to the tower, and helps the memory with its babbling sing-song. (2+)
France (French) - 2000 - 120
Daufresne, Michèle (text/illus.)
Coup de soleil
(A flash of sun)
Ivry-sur-Seine: Bilboquet, 1999.  p.
(Fables à tout vent)
Love - Appearance/Reality
Léon, the cricket, catches sight of the blue dragonfly at dawn and falls in love. But when it rains, its object of affection looks tattered and gray. What a liar the sun is, Léon decides in outrage. But still he cannot forget the dragonfly. Whether gray or blue it makes no difference in his love, if only he can find her again. The artistic quality of these illustrations exemplify the philosophical theme of being and appearance in mixed media technique using collages and watercolors that fuse together fantasy and realism. Fine gradations of color show the change from the vibrant light of a summer day to the drizzling gray of the rain shower. (4+)
France (French) - 2000 - 121
Destours, Christine (text/illus.)
(The Mister Propers)
Rodez: Éd. du Rouergue, 1999.  p.
Household - Cleanliness
The kind of miracles of orderliness and cleanliness that must be performed day for day in a turbulent household in order for family life to stay pleasant is demonstrated in the creative photographic collages of five busy cleaning elves. They are portrayed as the cut-off fingers of a rubber glove and rollick about in a setting composed of all the various materials that relate to cleaning: cleaning rags, pot scrubbers, sponges, dust mops, etc. The collages stimulate the child reader's sense of touch and smell and offer many funny ideas to turn cleaning into a sociable adventure. (4+)
France (French) - 2000 - 122
Donner, Chris (text)
Houdart, Emmanuelle (illus.)
Le fils de la sorcière et du loup
(The son of the witch and the wolf)
[Paris]: Grasset-Jeunesse, 1999.  p.
(Collection »Lecteurs en herbe«)
Darkness - Fear - Play
Pablo tries to be brave and fall asleep alone in the dark. But behind the bedroom window curtain there is a monster waiting to eat him. At the climatic peak of his terror, the story resolves into games and jokes. It is only his older brother who plays the boogey-man every evening when Pablo wants to fall asleep. The illustrations are reminiscent in style of Struwwelpeter and rely upon the fact that playing with fears can help to minimize them. Nonetheless the child has to fight a battle against these anxieties every night anew. (6+)
France (French) - 2000 - 123
À la vie, à la mort
(To life, to death)
[Paris]: Gallimard, 1999. 120 p.
(Page blanche ; 38)
World War I - World War II - Destiny
The two world wars and how they struck out against human destiny are the subject of these seven novellas. Each novella revolves around a single, individual life, how it unfolds, how it lives and what perspectives it holds for the future, even as the war begins to take its effect. Mercilessly, it sets its machines in motion, destroying hopes and torturing everyone, young and old, civilians as well as soldiers, who, in the worst of cases, face off as father and son on the supposedly opposing sides. The sober portrayal of the catastrophe leaves much room for the unspoken, letting the disastrous suffering become all the more tangible. (13+)
France (French) - 2000 - 124
Les mots ont des visages: elle
(The words have faces: she)
Paris: Autrement Jeunesse, 1999.  p.
Lettering - Picture - Graphic art
This charming play of typeface, pictogram and association is created with a minimum of effort, but much refinement on the alternating red-whiteblack pages of this handy square picture book. Each word is made up of the letters that form it and arranged in such a way that it can also be read as a picture. One is amused to find, for example, a girl's head and braids be shaped from the word »elle« (she). In contrast, a cowering person that looks like the first letter of the word for »abandoned « engenders sadness. Here the typeface becomes an appeal. It offers a kind of sensitivity training for dealing with today's endless flood of written characters and thoughtless use of words. (7+)
France (French) - 2000 - 125
[Paris]: Castor Poche Flammarion, 1999. 119 p.
(Castor poche ; 691 : Senior : Roman)
World War II - Jews/Persecution - Emigration - Palestine
The narrator Sarah looks back upon her childhood during the Second World War in France. She escapes the deportation that her Jewish family suffered through the courageous intervention of a farm family in Normandy that takes in her and her playmate. To avoid denunciation the children must take new names and religion. The end of the war brings new grief. Sarah is torn between the longing to find her missing parents and the fear of losing the »nest« provided by her guest parents. Her life story bears the mark of authenticity. Its large portion of suffering, the reader is comforted to know, lessens toward the end. Sarah's mother has survived and they find each other again in Palestine, the promised land. (11+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2000 - 126
Hoestlandt, Jo (text)
Novi, Nathalie (text/illus.)
Et les petites filles dansent ...
(And little girls go on dancing ...)
Paris: Syros Jeunesse [et al.], 1999.  p.
Dance - Joy of living - Freedom
Little girls just can't help but dance! And beneath their feet the earth begins to pulsate with the rhythm of the seasons. Their dance embodies the right to carefreeness, happiness and joy of living - even when elsewhere bombs and other catastrophes bring tears and death to other people, as shown in an inserted darker passage. When adults try to put a halt to this dance, the earth becomes paralyzed. It needs the joyfulness of little girls to keep on turning. The text, rhymed in merry-goround rhythm, accompanies the pictures that convey with color the twirling merry-go-round of little girls. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2000 - 127
Malineau, Jean-Hugues (text)
Morin, Patrick (illus.)
»Ouek, Ouek«, au secours! Histoire du caneton Kouac
(»Quack, quack,« Help me! The story of duckling Kouac)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1999. 29 p.
Riverlife - Duck - Survival
Spacious, richly detailed double-spread pictures show life on the riverside. Focal point of the book are the experiences and dangers for a duckling which has lost its family. There is an equal portion of animal story and information book. In the end two variant endings are offered. After a happy ending in a picture book sunset, there is a short supplementary explanation that this duckling would have had no chance for survival in the natural world. The adult who reads the book aloud can decide whether to give the child who cannot yet read alone this shocking piece of truth and prepare it for a different view of nature beyond the safe and sound animal story. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2000 - 128
Peltier, François (text/illus.)
L'arche de Noé
Dauphin: Le Sablier Éd., 1997. 14 p.
This clearly printed text sticks closely to the Biblical version. The illustrations that are interspersed are mysteriously fragmentary, as if taken from an archeological find. They show animal motifs, such as the eyes of an owl, or a detail drawing of a stork, with outspread wings that seems to be awaiting the end of the flood at the top of each page. A wide, fold-out poster in the back cover of the book fits the fragments together into an overall, mosaic-like view of the ark. The swarming crowd of animals on the ark can be studied for quite a while before all the details, down to the human figures, are discerned. Thus there is an incentive to take up visual projection into the symbolism of this myth again and again. (6+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2000 - 129
Quinta, Philippe (text)
Schnell, Cécile (illus.)
L'arbre de Joachim
Bats: Utovie Jeunesse, 1999. 31 p.
Tree - Growth - Catastrophe - Tall tale
As part of their biology lesson pupils plant seeds of the most familiar types of trees. But Joachim's seed is of unknown origin. It explodes into a monstrous tree that brings the city to a halt, and finally ruins it. Olivier makes a wittily sarcastic record of all the details of this catastrophe in his diary, illustrating it with flowing sketches from unusual perspectives. The vividly concrete text and illustrations become so convincing that the unmasking of the chronicler Olivier as a fibber in the end is quite a surprise. The final diary entry is at once the beginning of a new tall tale. This time our friend Joachim will have to deal with a whole army of adders. (8+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2000 - 130
Serres, Alain [et al.] (text)
Le grand livre contre le racisme
(The big book against racism)
[Paris]: Rue du Monde, 1999. 115 p.
It is not genes that make people of different skin colours different, but rather traditions, religious practices and the everyday customs of the respective cultures. This is shown by a collective of renown authors in this substantial documentation for young adults, with its 120 photos. The focus unites historical and sociological viewpoints on slavery, holocaust, xenophobia, migration and marginalization in the past, with the banality of everyday life in our cities, in which behaviour toward those who are different is often easily and unconsciously diffamatory. The colored sketches by Zaü that are interspersed in the text expose the absurdity of behavioral clichés in humorous visual anecdotes. (9+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 2000 - 131
Ventrillon, Brigitte (text)
Bloch, Serge (illus.)
La peur bleue d'Arthur. 17 questions-réponses pour savoir si tu es un champion de la sécurité à la maison.
(Arthur's frightful fears. 17 questions and answers to determine if you are a champion of home security)
[Paris]: Hatier, 1999.  p.
Household appliances - Danger - Prevention
How to feed the pet, how to correctly open a tin can or use a hair dryer or a microwave oven - all these things can be learned in this turbulent picture story of Arthur and his kitty. The illustrations are filled with vibrant action and childlike motion. They elaborate in a playful but incisive manner the dangers that may ensue with improper usage of household appliances. A question-andanswer quiz accompanies each scene, mixing together fun and learning. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2000 - 132
Vilcoq, Marianne (text/illus.)
J'attends un petit frère
(I am expecting a brother)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1999.  p.
Pregnancy - Sibling rivalry
Maud is sulking because she is supposed to get a little brother. Watching her mother's tummy getting fatter and fatter, she experiences all the phases of jealousy mixed with curiousity about what is happening inside. By lifting the flaps on each page, the reader sees inside mother's tummy, where the little brother is growing and moving about. Maud can listen and even feel how the baby gives her a signal. Sensitive, gentle and enlightening all at once, this book solves the crisis of a toddler. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2000 - 133
Wabbes, Marie (text/illus.)
Petit Doux n'a pas peur
(Sweet little one, have no fear)
Paris: De La Martinière Jeunesse, 1998.  p.
Violence - Fear - Sexual abuse
Enlightenment and supportive help on this delicate subject are offered here in a discreet but unambiguous manner. The role play taking place between the big wolf (an adult) and the little bear (a child) is quite clear. It begins with caressing and ends with pushy advances and bodily harm. The range of colors in the spacious double-page spreads in pastel chalk begins with light orangered tones and increasingly darkens into brownblack- and-grey, in accordance with the change in the child's feelings - from peaceful playing and pleasure to disquiet and panic. An escape from this situation is in the end only the urgent appeal to talk openly and without fear about the evil deeds of the grownup. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2000 - 134
Witschger, Anne-Laure (text/illus.)
Deux yeux, un nez, une bouche ...
(Two eyes, one nose, a mouth...)
[Montrouge]: Éd. Frimousse, .  p.
Sense organs - Body - Perception
The pleasure children have in exploring their own bodies is reflected in the colored drawings of this square little book. A vivacious creature, halfmouse, half-human, demonstrates how the world can be perceived with all the senses and parts of the body from the eyes to the belly-button and how daily life can be fun, even when such unloved tasks as going to the potty or being washed are required. (2+)
France (French) - 2001 - 114
Andersen, Hans-Christian (text)
Lemoine, Georges (illus.)
La Chesnais, P. G. (trad.)
La petite marchande d'allumettes
(The little match-girl)
(Danish orig. title: Den lille pige med svovlstikkerne)
Paris : Nathan, 1999. 41 p.
Child - Poverty - Death - War - Sarajevo
Andersen's tale of the little match girl who freezes to death on the street on New Year's Eve is timeless. The illustrator Lemoine transposes it to Sarajevo in 1999, drawing on authentic photographic material. The child errs through the sinister, devastated city, its eyes wide with fear and hunger. The traditional text and the contemporary setting are of an uncanny appropriateness. The simple pathos of Andersen's tale of misery is echoed by the captions of the illustrations which are taken from the text »Welcome to Hell« by the Bosniak poet Ozran Kebo. Child and city are equally to be lamented. The child's death is only one of many. (6+) ☆
France (French) - 2001 - 115
Battut, Éric (text/illus.)
Toulouse : Milan, 2000.  p.
Friendship - Bird - Cat
Friendship is a strange phenomenon: it often comes by surprise and one cannot judge by appearances who plays the stronger part in the relationship. Originally, the red tom-cat intends to raise the little bird for the sole purpose of devouring it. But closeness and growing familiarity secretly knit a bond between these unequal partners. There is no de- vouring – the two become inseparable. When the bird migrates down south, Matou is inconsolable. The simple text is animated by a memorable rhythm. The naive, child-like pictures always show the bright red cat in full view. His mime play and body language are extremely nuanced: His sly look or feline frown tell it all: appetite and cunning, affection, joy, sad waiting and loneliness. (3+)
France (French) - 2001 - 116
Bendetti, Claire (text)
Jalibert, Maria (illus.)
Yack' à lire de A à Zèbre : petit bestiaire littéraire
(Elephantastic A to Zebra : a little literary bestiary)
[Osny] : Points de Suspension, 1999.  p.
Alphabet - Animals - Literature
Every animal has its story explaining its pecularities: how did the dromedar get its hump, the zebra its stripes, or the armadillo its coat of armour? And vice versa: Every story has its animal. There's Nils Holgerson's goose, the blue bird in the fairy tale, the elephant Babar in the picture book or the Little Prince's sheep. Both aspects come together in this colourful, attractive mixed media animal alphabet. The doublespreads present the animal on the lefthand side just like on a coloured tile. The narrative text in hand-lettering on the opposite page is interspersed with small pictures full of fun-filled discoveries. (5+)
France (French) - 2001 - 117
Binder, Jean (text/illus.)
À ce moment précis ... ou la paix des dimanches
(At that very moment ... or Sunday peace)
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2000.  p.
Burglar - Imagination - Reality
It is a lovely Sunday afternoon – the whole family enjoys peace and quiet. Suddenly, the cat and the dog notice something. There is a burglar in the house! The fast paced pictures explore the sudden change in situation, they catch the tightening atmosphere and the rising tension. It seems as though a camera was following the dangerously culminating action: on- and uplooking perspectives alternate, pictures zoom in and out while parallel pictures feature simultaneous scenes. The suspense is over when the burglar gets away. The only clue is a pair of black glasses. They identify the real »culprit«: It is the father who invented the whole story at his drafting table. He dismisses the perplexed readers with a cunning look on his face, leaving it up to them to draw the line between fact and fiction. (6+)
France (French) - 2001 - 118
Bloch, Muriel (text)
Vautier, Mireille (illus.)
365 contes de la tête aux pieds
(365 stories from head to toe)
[Paris] : Gallimard Jeunesse / Giboulées, 2000.  p.
Body - Body parts - Folktale
These stories about the human body, its metamorphosis, enchantment, its mutilation and healing, come from the treasury of folktales. They can be funny or gruesome. There is a story for every organ and physical infirmity imaginable. The hand goes shopping for the ear, an eye »breast«-feeds a baby. The princess has golden breasts in the fairy tale, whereas the hero has to cope with two humps. The reader is not spared drastic descriptions of bodily functions. We learn that the different parts of our body carry responsibility for each other and that our body may hide animalistic forces. A bibliography as well as a list of the body parts and their metamorphoses can be found in an appendix. A read-aloud book for children and adults alike. (9+)
France (French) - 2001 - 119
Clément, Claude (text)
Forestier, Isabelle (illus.)
Un petit chaperon rouge
(A Little Red Riding Hood)
[Paris] : Grasset & Fasquelle, 2000.  p.
(Collection »Lecteurs en herbe«)
Child - Violence - Sexual abuse - Silence - Speaking
Because of its focus on tabus, the classic fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood lends itself to a psychoanalytical interpretation, especially to an unequivocal treatment of the themes of violence and child abuse. Clément introduces a new problem: In this version of the familiar tale, the child responds to the violation of its integrity with traumatised silence. Little Red Riding Hood escapes the wolf, but she falls into a numb, deadly silence. The illustrations hold the balance between symbolism, dream and reality with subdued colours. The lighthearted tone of the rhymes reduces the horror of the drama. Everything is well again when Red Riding Hood can talk about what happened to her. (5+)
France (French) - 2001 - 120
Daudet, Alphonse (text)
Battut, Éric (illus.)
La chèvre de M. Seguin
(Mr Seguin's goat)
Paris : Didier Jeunesse, 1999.  p.
Dependence - Security - Freedom - Danger
Daudet's story of the goat, which runs away from its master and is eaten by the wolf, explores the alternative of a life of dependence and protection or one of freedom and risk (see cat. no. 124). Battut's illustrations clearly demonstrate the mutual exclusion of security and freedom. Vast landscapes open up to the inquiring and adventurous goat, a little white spot, candidly storming across the open space. The beholder will sense her love of life in the fresh wind of freedom as well as the growing danger in the darkening twilight. A blood-red sky and black shadows looking like wolf's teeth provide the setting for the deadly struggle. The layout of the text has been carefully tuned to the narrative with coloured lettering. ' (5+) ☼
France (French) - 2001 - 121
Maury, Marianne (illus.)
Estellon, Pascale (illus.)
Weiss, Anne (illus.)
Les petits bonheurs du pré : un imagier très nature
(The little pleasures of the meadow : a very natural picture book)
[Paris] : Mila Éd., 2000.  p.
Nature - Garden
Delicately painted pictures show flowers and vegetables, birds, insects and forest animals, but also the sun, the moon and wind in fresh, nuanced colours. The loose sequence of images leads the way through nature in alphabetical order: spinach and snail, peacock and apple, radish and fox etc.. The result is a varied, attractive presentation of nature's riches. The graphic design is well conceived. Despite all the different typesets, the alternating white and coloured pages, the occasional verse, nursery rhyme or poem, however, this handy volume still preserves the character of an amateur's scrap book. (4+)
France (French) - 2001 - 122
Fort, Paul (text)
Letuffe, Anne (illus.)
Le bonheur est dans le pré
(Happiness is in the meadows)
[Paris] : Père Castor Flammarion, 2000.  p.
Summer - Childhood - Joy of life
Paul Fort's (1872-1960) famous poem will lure any couch potatoes out into the fresh air, inspiring them to jump »over the hedge«. The photo-collage illustrations, extending over the entire doublespread, reflect the effervescence and the lightheartedness of the poetic verse. Small vignettes featuring scenes from a happy boy's everyday life are placed on the monochrome green background of the meadow, just like bright, torn images from popular broad sheets. The illustrator supports the poem's exhortation to daring by slanting and tilting the framed space of the meadow more and more with every page, until, in the end, the child can hop out of the frame and into life. (5+)
France (French) - 2001 - 123
La danse interdite
(The forbidden dance)
[Paris] : Magnier, 2000. 118 p.
(Collection roman : Niveau de lecture 3. et plus)
World War II - Jewish woman - Polish man - Persecution of the Jews - Love
Of Jewish origin, Perla is not allowed to marry her Polish love even though she expects a child from him, and is forced to emigrate. Back on visit in 1939, she is seized by the German invadors and sent to the ghetto of Lublin where she closely es- capes death. But Perla never loses her love of life. Quick of mind and full of vitality, she has a talent to appreciate the few and precious happy moments of day-to-day existence. This happy disposition keeps her heart from hardening and even helps other people to bear the desolate existence of ghetto life. She is no heroine, but lives her life with courageous passion. (13+) ☼
(Prix enfantaisies; 2000)
France (French) - 2001 - 124
Heitz, Bruno (illus.)
[Orange] : Grandir, 1999.  p.
Man - Goat - Wolf - Devouring
A classic tale is told with the means of classic woodcut- technique. The illustrator's mastery shows in the economy of all devices: no text, only chapter headings, strictly framed, monochrome pictures. The respective colours (pale blue, brown, green and red) reflect the thrust of Daudet's morality tale »The goat of Monsieur Seguin« (see cat. no. 120). Strong, expressive lines bring to life the white goat, who intrigues the man permanently dressed in black. One cannot miss the mutual but ambivalent attraction, and hence will understand that the relationship is at the very centre of this story. Children will be more prone to respond to Monsieur's grief at the loss of the goat than to listen to the warning of the dangers of freedom. (5+)
France (French) - 2001 - 125
Heitz, Bruno (text/illus.)
Une histoire pas terrible, terrible
(Not a terribly bad story)
Rodez : Éd. du Rouergue, 2000.  p.
Car accident - Cow - Goat
A car accident is a car accident. That's the principle of this story which features quite a number of accidents. But never-fading optimism and creative craft ensure the pursuit of the trip. The collision of a cow and a truck results in a half-cow-halftruck- vehicle. Just too bad that it gives gas-milk! The next accident-repair can only improve things. The inventive spirit is challenged once more until the perfect solution is found: a cowgoat is mounted. These dramatic scenes are rendered by expressive graphics. Painted wooden figures move on bright, colourful backgrounds. Strong shadows heigthen the theatrical effect. (4+)
France (French) - 2001 - 126
Hoestlandt, Jo (text)
Kang, Johanna (illus.)
Mon petit papa de rien du tout
(My little Daddy from nothing at all)
[Arles] : Actes Sud Junior, 2000. 31 p.
(Les histoires sages)
Father - Lack of father - Image of father
Mother and grandmother evade all questions about the father: »He was a good-for-nothing!« But Lulu keeps thinking of him. One night, his wish grows so strong that his father suddenly appears – a little man, the size of a doll. He is barefoot like a tramp, trembling with the cold, but he is smiling. Lulu warms and cuddles him. He doesn't want to let go off his little Dad. The next morning, he looks in the mirror and discovers a dimple on his cheek. Daddy left it there – it was his kiss, proving that Lulu is his child. The poetic text and the muted, soft hues of the illustrations assuage the harshness of the child's loneliness. (7+) ☼
France (French) - 2001 - 127
Kerloc'h, Jean-Pierre (select.)
Brouillard, Anne (illus.)
Paroles de la mer
(Words from the sea)
Paris : Albin Michel Jeunesse, 2000.  p.
Sea - Anthology
To poets and philosophers the sea is a synonym for life. To the people from the country it is a vast canvas on which they project all their dreams and desires. Sea-faring men speak of risk, they say they're at the mercy of the awe-inspiring elements. All these impressions of the sea find expression in a selection of quotes. The illustrations capture the text's various points of view with broad brush strokes and subdued colours. They rely on the power of association. The human figure remains but a shadowy outline. It seems as though the restricted format of the page forced the illustration to focus on one detailed aspect. What better way is there to show that the sea itself cannot be framed? (12+)
France (French) - 2001 - 128
Leblanc, Catherine (text)
Gilard, Florence (illus.)
Des étoiles sur les genoux
(Stars on the knees)
Chaillé-sous-les-Ormeaux : Dé Bleu, 2000. 47 p.
(Le farfadet bleu)
Child - Everyday life - Children's poetry
The short poems of this anthology are delicate creations, which enhance and enrich sublimely captured details of everyday life with the help of succint metaphors. The child is invited directly to perceive its surroundings with great sensitivity and awareness and to use all five senses: listen, look, taste, touch! The synaesthetic verses favour an associative approach, allowing the child to intuitively understand the poetic imagery. It can be easy to write poems: feeling, perception and trust in the transformative powers of poetry is all you need: »You are lonely – write a poem about that!« The illustrations in bright yellow and earthybrown tones capture the atmosphere of the poetic imagery. The careful use of lettering as a graphic element plays on the nature of literacy: writing fixes impressions only to renew their experience with every read. (5+)
(Prix Poésie Jeunesse; 1999)
France (French) - 2001 - 129
Le Bourhis, Michel
Libre sur paroles
(Out on parole)
Paris : Rageot, 2000. 148 p.
(Collection cascade : Pluriel)
Father - Unemployment - Prison - Son - Conflict management
Father was imprisoned for a failed attempt at bank robbery. In two weeks he will be released. The son uses this period to restore the somewhat shattered relationship to his father. While he refuses to be helped by his mother, he finds support from a friend. Timidly, he seizes the opportunity to confide in him, to admit his shame and disappointment. Gradually, this brings about a change of heart. The attachment to his father, fostered during many happy years in the small family, grows stronger again. In keeping and sharing a secret they regain their complicity. The novel resolves psychologically convincing with the joy over a renewed relationship. (13+) ☼
France (French) - 2001 - 130
Jusqu'à la mer
(All the way to the sea)
Paris : Seuil, 2000. 150 p.
Grandmother - Grandchild - Illness - Death
Paul's grandmother has cancer. There is not much time left before she will leave her eleven-year-old grandchild behind – all by himself. The narrative, meticulously describing their last two months together, adopts the emotional, internal point of view of the protagonists. Anna has to let go off her role as the life-affirming guardian. In turn, Paul, in his great love for her, has developed a strong sense of responsibility and caring. The existential anxiety, which they try to hide from one another, endows the last, precious shared moments with great value. The Parisean setting of the 60s adds an authentic note to the story. The careful tone, rather untypical for teenage fiction, leaves enough room for the unexpressable. (13+)
France (French) - 2001 - 131
La rivière à l'envers
(The river flowing backwards)
Paris : Pocket Jeunesse, 2000. 190 p.
([Pocket / Junior] ; 616: Roman)
Adventure trip - Meaning of life - Courage - Love
The little spice boy has to master many adventures until the princess of his heart comes to join him. The various stages of his world trip are accumulated with oriental love of lore: the forest of ob- livion, the island which does not exist, the black rainbow of nothingness, and even the river of life which flows backwards. Thank goodness for a team of generous helpers like chubby Mary, whose many layers of clothes stand for her resistence to all adversities of life, or the little folk of perfume-creators which wakes the hero from deadly sleep with a reading marathon lasting several months. But the most difficult challenge of all can only be overcome by will-power. (11+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2001 - 132
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2000. 207 p.
Orphan - Social discrepancy - Illness - Brotherhood - Humanitarian spirit
The children (14, 8, and 5 years old) are in bad luck: their father disappeared, their alcoholic mother committed suicide and social welfare put them in a home. Not enough: the oldest is taken ill with leukemia. But somehow they cope with this accumulation of misery, because they stick together like glue. Their homosexual half-brother and his established sister offer to foster them but only make things worse. The contrary milieus in which the children move show life in all its different facets – and always on the narrow dividing line between happiness and despair. Social pretence crumbles under the attacks of the subversive humour, while the reader is relentlessly confronted with extreme situations in turn heartbreaking, irritating or simply hilarious. The reader will understand that everyone possesses his or her own truth and humanity. (12+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2001 - 133
Serres, Alain (text)
Une cuisine grande comme le monde: 60 recettes pour voyager tout autour de la terre
(A kitchen the size of the world : 60 recipes to travel around the world)
[Paris] : Rue du Monde, 2000. 58 p.
This large formatted travel-guide cookbook invites you to taste and smell your way around the world. There are 25 traditional dishes to choose from. Full-page pictures in pastel colours convey impressions of distant landscapes, cities and markets and celebrate the diversity of the peoples and menues. Some of the recipes can be prepared by children on their own. Brief information about exotic products and their preparation, about spices, fruits and their role in colonial history widen the horizon. They also remind us that – despite our different customs and traditions – we are all guests at the one table of our world. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 2001 - 134
Les ombres de Ghadamès
(The shadows of Ghadamès)
Paris : Bayard Jeunesse, 2000. 174 p.
Libya - Muslims - Women - 19th century
This novel tells of the life of Muslim women on the threshold to modernity from the perspective of an adolescent girl with great empathy and respect for the cultural and social conditions of late 19th century Libya. The first wife is bound by tradition and a prisoner in her own house. The second wife is open-minded, intense and prepared to take risky decisions. As for the girl, she ardently wishes to learn to read and to be allowed to travel. She successfully takes her first steps towards emancipation. Three male characters, the smaller brother, the father and a religious zealot complement the image of the secret female world from a male point of view. (12+) ☆
France (French) - 2002 - 112
Aprile, Thierry (text)
Place, François (illus.)
Sur les traces de ... Aladdin
(On the trail of ... Aladdin)
Paris : Gallimard Jeunesse, 2001. 125 p.
(Sur les traces de ...)
Islam – Aladdin – Coming of age – Arabian Nights – Fairytale
This popular fairytale from the »Arabian Nights« delineates how, with the help of a magic lamp and his own courage and cleverness, Aladdin, the son of a poor tailor, manages to marry the Sultan's daughter. The mixture of a fictitous initiation tale and real information, of myths and historical documents, makes this an exceptional book. Each chapter is followed by a two-page appendix, informing the readers about the Arab-Muslim civilisation: It covers its political organisation at those times, speaks of the importance of the Arab scholars and of religion, and concludes with information about women's life style. Coloured illustrations by the well-known French artist complement the wonderful deeds of Aladdin narrated in this small-format, (and in more than one sense of the word) shining book. (12+) ☆
France (French) - 2002 - 113
Bernard, Fred (text)
Roca, François (illus.)
Jeanne et le Mokélé
(Jeanne and the Mokélé)
Paris : Albin Michel Jeunesse, 2001.  p.
Africa/1920 – Natural scientist – Expedition – Adventure
Jeanne Picquigny misses her father, a scientist, who disappeared somewhere in Africa when she was a child. Therefore, at twenty-one, she decides to go searching for him. Together with a guide, who is quite arrogant at first, she defies the dangers of the savannah and discovers her father's secret: For years, he has been following and filming a rare Brontosaurus. The adventure's tragic outcome at least saves the worshipped animal from the nosy public. This is a picture book full of suspense that invites the readers to explore Africa in the 1920s. Naturalistic pictures in different shades of sepia immediately catch the reader's attention. The poetic telegram-like text provides the calm background voice. (7+)
France (French) - 2002 - 114
Blake, Stéphanie (text/illus.)
La fille qui voulait être un garçon
(The girl who wanted to be a boy)
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2001. 38 p.
Death – Loss of the mother – Father – Daughter – Communication – Self-discovery
Ten-year-old Gretchen has lost her mother and now lives with her father and her six brothers. As she has noticed that her father seems only happy when playing football with his sons, she tries to behave like a boy. Yet, neither as tomboy, nor as »proper« girl with make-up and lipstick, does she get any attention from her father. When, above all, he makes fun of her, she runs away to her mother's grave. This short tale, written in simple language, demonstrates how the death of a beloved person can cause communication problems and even an identity crisis. The austere black-and-white illustrations emphasise the father's despair and the daughter's pain, until the end when they are finally reconciled. (7+)
France (French) - 2002 - 115
Le destin de Linus Hoppe
(Linus Hoppe's fate)
Paris : Bayard Jeunesse, 2001. 264 p.
Coming of age – Friendship – Family – Social integration – Social order – Fate
Linus' world is divided into strictly separate hierarchical spheres. Only if Linus passes the big exam, in which the »Great Disposer« determines his IQ, will he be able to reach a leading position later. But Linus cannot get used to this social system. He and his friend Chem, an informatics genius, start searching for a way to make his fate take a different course. The plot of this multilayered science fiction novel is told in a thrilling style. The author convincingly presents the protagonist's psychological development, starting with thoughtfulness and leading to non-conformist behaviour, and, eventually, to a new life independent from his family. This novel persuasively encourages the readers to question social conventions. (11+)
France (French) - 2002 - 116
Charpentier, Olivier (illus.)
La poésie médiévale : petite anthologie
(Medieval Poetry : a small anthology)
[Paris] : Mango Jeunesse, 2001.  p.
(Collection »Il suffit de passer le pont« : Album Dada)
Poetry – Middle Ages
This selection of nineteen poems, translated into modern French, allows readers to explore the rich poetic heritage of the Middle Ages, such as »Chansons de toile« and »Chant d'amour« (i.e. love poems by women to their adored and vice versa) or the ballads by Villon. This poetry, which deals with timeless topics, offers a whole gamut of styles: It is sometimes crude or cunning, sometimes satirical or lyrical. Two pages in this largeformat book's appendix introduce the readers to the various genres and make them familiar with the respective authors. Remarkable, highly artistic woodcuts in black, dark red, and blue, which appear almost frightening, transport the readers back into former times and convey the mentality of people in those days. (12+)
France (French) - 2002 - 117
De l'Europe à l'Euro
(From Europe to the Euro)
Paris : Milan, 2001. 32 p.
(Les essentiels Milan Junior ; 16 : Société)
Europe – Currency
The preparations for the introduction of the Euro, the common European currency, were recently among the most important issues discussed. Magali Clausener-Petit, a journalist who also writes articles for youth magazines, describes in simple words how Europe's institutions work, what aims they pursue, and what difficulties they face, when developing a common European industrial law. The text is written in a clear, colourful, and exciting language. A map of Europe and a glossary complement the basic information; a bibliography and a selection of Internet pages invite readers to further research. The author also introduces the first successful European projects, such as the exchange of pupils and students. With this book, she strives to increase European awareness. (10+)
France (French) - 2002 - 118
Comte, Hubert (text)
Arthus-Bertrand, Yann (photos)
Giraudon, David (illus.)
La terre racontée aux enfants
(The earth described for children)
Paris : De La Martinière Jeunesse, 2001.  p.
Journey around the world – Environmental awareness
After the great success of »La Terre vue du ciel« (»The earth seen from the sky«), travel photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand has now published a book for children. Following the footsteps of Nils Holgerson, he travelled around the world. His large-format aerial colour-photographs are of extraordinary quality and illustrate the world's great diversity. Small maps next to the pictures help identify the respective places. Watercolour paintings depicting children in their local dress accompany the photographs. At the same time, short comments make readers aware of the destruction of the ecological balance caused by people's careless behaviour. The beautiful pictures effectively get this book's message across: If we want to protect our environment, we have to remain alert. (8+) ☆
France (French) - 2002 - 119
Dedieu (i.e. Thierry Dedieu) (text/illus.)
Paris : Seuil Jeunesse, 2001.  p.
Clown – Social integration – Child – Illness – Joy – Laughter – Friendship
In this book, the author deals very tactfully with a delicate topic: Clown Pippo is forced to retire but he cannot get used to the idea that he won't be able to make people happy anymore. Finally, he finds a new job at a children's hospital where all the children love him; only Doug, ill with leukemia, refuses to laugh. When Pippo himself falls ill, a role reversal takes place: Now it is the boy who tries to make the clown laugh. They become close friends and, from now on, they work together. In this story, friendship and laughter help defeat an illness. Expressive pictures show the clown's changing feelings with large spaces coloured in dark red, black, or white highlighting the actions. The dramatic intensity of this large-format book is attenuated by its caricaturesque style. (8+)
France (French) - 2002 - 120
Douzou, Olivier (text/illus.)
Rodez : Éd. du Rouergue, 2001.  p.
Ogre – Boy – Hugeness – Relativism – Game
An ogre lies on the floor sleeping. He is so tall that he does not even fit on a single page. Thus, his body is drawn in several pieces: Shoes, legs, torso up to the mouth; all these bodyparts can be discovered on a separate page. Small arrows beside the body always make the reader turn to the following page until, suddenly, a big surprise happens. The ogre turns out to be nothing but a harmless boy, half asleep, observed and presented to the reader from an ant's perspective. Everything is relative, indeed! The small picture book in square format plays with typography. Superlatives printed in bold capitals are used to describe the ogre's size and the graphic pictures further emphasize its hugeness. Thanks to the light colours, though, the »monster« never appears too threatening. (2+)
France (French) - 2002 - 121
Estèbe, Jean-Luc (text)
Bachelier, Benjamin (illus.)
Fils de voleur
(Son of a thief)
Paris : Nathan, 2000. 132 p.
(Lune noire ; 36 : Policier)
Family – Friendship – Theft – Father – Son
Between relaxing games and homework for school Gabriel leads an almost normal life. Still, he really misses his father, whose postcards cannot compensate for his absence. One day, the boy notices a shadow, which closely resembles his father, sneaking into the garden shed. The following day, Gabriel and Julie, the girl from next door, find a suitcase full of jewels inside the shed. Could his father be a thief? This humorous and entertaining detective story is written from the point of view of a child who suffers from an unstable family situation. The funny story is full of suspense and imaginative games; nevertheless, it also touches on some serious issues. »Fils de voleur« is Jean-Luc Estèbe's first novel. (10+)
France (French) - 2002 - 122
Fabbri, Robert (text)
Lenglet, Maud (illus.)
En avant l'enfanfare!
(Come on, infan(t)fare! <word play>)
Chaillé-sous-les-Ormeaux : Le Dé Bleu, 2001. 47 p.
(Le farfadet bleu)
Celebration – Circus – School – Everyday life
It is not a coincidence that some of the poems in this volume are dedicated to the famous French poet Jacques Prévert. They deal with motifs and topics which frequently appear in Prévert's works, such as celebrations, school life, childhood, and (especially) animals. Even physical phenomena (e.g. how water evaporates) are made into poems here. Some texts, like »La chanson de Dracula« (»Dracula's song«), are variations of well-known songs turned into counting-out rhymes. Others show the world of objects, animated in a very imaginative way. The tone of the narration is always humorous. The book presents a varied mixture of puns and word creations and handles the topics in a playful manner. Colourful collages aptly complement the text. (11+)
France (French) - 2002 - 123
Fauroux, Catherine (text)
Legendre, Patricia (illus.)
Dytik, l'ogre de la mare
(Dytik, the ogre in the pond)
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2001. 28 p.
Pond – Carnivore – Water beetles
A meadow in spring ... a pond in its middle ... a bank completely overgrown ... As if watching through a zoom, we dive into the mysterious world of the water animals. Between tadpoles, dragonflies, and pond skaters, we approach the terrifying green water beetle, personified as a man-eating monster. Poetic pictures intensify the magic of the shimmering water and show us the secrets of a beetle's life right up to its beautiful transformation in summer. A double-page appendix contains interesting information about the pond and its inhabitants. It provides readers with scientific facts about nature, creating a remarkable contrast to the fairytale characteristics of the fascinating blue-green aquatint pictures and the personified beetle, Dytik. (9+)
France (French) - 2002 - 124
Gay-Para, Praline (text)
Saillard, Rémi (illus.)
Le pou et la puce
(Louse and flea)
Paris : Didier Jeunesse, 2001.  p.
(À petits petons)
Louse – Flea – Solidarity – Sympathy
A sudden gust of wind disturbs the cosy breakfast of flea and louse, carrying the louse high into the air and letting it fall on the hot kitchen stove. But the wind also unleashes another chain of events: The window bangs, the door creaks, the wheelbarrow rolls up to the tree which drops its leaves. The sounds travel on and on like a wave until the one who caused the disturbance sorts everything out. The author's creativity is evident in the poetic onomatopoeia and the almost dadaist typography which expresses sounds, speed, and drama. Caricaturesque pictures in clear colours, resembling wood-cuts, lend power to this traditional and very popular chain tale. (2+)
France (French) - 2002 - 125
La vie des enfants au siècle des lumières
(The life of children in the age of Enlightenment)
Paris : Éd. du Sorbier, 2001. 45 p.
Child – Everyday life – France/1680-1790
In various chapters, adequately entitled with clear headings, this book narrates the life of children from different social backgrounds in France during the eighteenth century. Child birth, food, family life, education, working conditions, games, and celebrations are portrayed. Informative texts alternate with fictitious and real children's biographies. All of them are convincing and allow for an individual and lively introduction to the topic. The author draws an exciting picture of the past and easily succeeds in arousing the readers' interest. Several contemporary illustrations, most of them discovered in the French National Library, complete the text. A very detailed glossary is added at the end of the book. (9+)
France (French) - 2002 - 126
Hassaan, Ali Ahmed (text/illus.)
Musa, Patricia (transl.)
Le rêve du papillon
(The butterfly's dream)
Orange : Grandir, 2000.  p.
(Original text Arab)
Butterflies – Weakness – Power – Freedom – Cleverness – Folktale
The terrifying Zoumba is the undisputed king of the animals until the day when he loses his eyes in the pond while drinking from it. His subjects pretend to be willing to help, but instead they humiliate him to take revenge for his strict reign. Only the weakest animal, the butterfly, seizes the opportunity to buy himself freedom and safety. Zoumba gets his eyes back. Since that time, colourful eyes decorate the butterflies' wings. This story demonstrates how easy it is to reverse the balance of power. Abstract dreamlike colour-illustrations confirm the statement of this political as well as philosophical folktale. (5+)
France (French) - 2002 - 127
Louis, Alain (text)
Pommier, Maurice (illus.)
Les châteaux forts
Paris : Hachette Jeunesse, 2000. 32 p.
(3D explorateur ; 1)
Castle – Building – Europe – Middle Ages/500-1500
From the wooden watch-tower to the medieval fortress, this detailed non-fiction book chronologically traces the history of fortifications built in Western Europe. Exhaustive texts categorise the buildings according to the respective periods and show how the inhabitants led attacks or defended themselves against their enemies. A variety of illustrations and historical paintings accompany the text and supply additional information. An accurate two-page glossary at the end explains the technical terms in a comprehensible language. Moreover, the book holds another treat: With the help of the enclosed 3-D-glasses, some of the illustrations appear three-dimensional. All in all, this is an informative book that allows children to explore the medieval world of knights and castles in a playful way. (8+)
France (French) - 2002 - 128
Le goût de la mangue
(The taste of a mango)
Paris : Magnier, 2001. 214 p.
Madagascar/1950 – Independence movement – Coming of age – First love
This novel is set in Madagascar in the 1950s, when this island was still a French colony. Fifteen-year-old Anna is not happy among all the priviledged French boys. In her boarding school in Tana, though, she has some very good friends. One day, she meets Léon, a Malagasy boy, who introduces her to his country's traditions. Unfortunately, the independence movement and the hatred between their families threaten the teenagers' love. Anna is pictured as a curious and humorous teenage girl who slowly realises the complexity of the world around her. Through her eyes, the readers discover the civilisation of Madagascar and its colonial society. With a lot of sensitivity, this gripping novel describes the feelings of the young protagonists. (13+) ☆
France (French) - 2002 - 129
Molènes, Thalie de (text)
Sochard, Frédéric (illus.)
17 contes du bouddhisme
(Seventeen Buddhist tales)
[Paris] : Castor Poche Flammarion, 2000. 99 p.
(Castor poche ; 775 : Senior : Contes)
Folktales – Zen Buddhism
When her son withdrew to Tibet for three years, Thalie de Molènes, who had already written several novels for young adults, spent a lot of time reading and collecting information about Buddhism, a religion that was fairly unfamiliar to her up to this moment. She selected seventeen tales from the collection »500 folktales and fables by the Chinese Tripitaka« and rewrote them. Unlike folktales of the European tradition, these tales do not only provide general words of wisdom, they also offer a first insight into the Buddhist religion. The appendix contains a glossary as well as a short description of Buddhism and its historical development, inviting readers to take a closer look at this topic. (11+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 2002 - 130
Serres, Alain (text)
Le premier livre de toutes nos couleurs
(The first book of all our colours)
[Paris]: Rue du Monde, 2001. 91 p.
(Les premiers livres)
International understanding – Tolerance – Solidarity – Racism
»Your chocolate is African, your numbers are Arabic, and your letters are Latin ...« In 2001, the International Year against Racism, these words by the author convey a message of tolerance and solidarity. In eleven chapters, the book presents the world's great variety. The author points out some of the violent events of the past, such as driving out the Red Indians, the slave trade in Africa, the persecution of the Jews. He then moves on to current problems in the world, mentioning the immigrants' difficulties of integration, among many others. Additional information is presented in small, coloured boxes. Black-and-white photographs, pictures in bright colours, historic illustrations, and the overall design of the book illustrate the world's colourfulness and its diversity. The author's words address the child readers directly and, by offering various activities for them to try out, he inspires them to think independently. (5+) ☆
France (French/German) - 2003 - 112
Abbis-Chacé, Claire [et al.] (ed.)
Saillard, Rémi (illus.)
Les plus belles comptines allemandes
(The most beautiful German counting-out rhymes)
Paris : Didier Jeunesse, 2002. 57 p. + CD
(Les petits cousins)
Finger games – Counting-out rhymes – Songs
The intention of this volume – the third in a series called Petits cousins (Little cousins) – is to open up ways of learning a foreign language to toddlers. It focuses on the German language offering a representative collection of finger games, lullabies, counting-out rhymes, songs for dancing and playing, and other popular children’s songs. To enable children to easily grasp the meaning of the songs, each German title is placed next to a French one with a similar topic. Colourful illustrations accurately interpret the content and make the respective texts more accessible. The extensive pedagogic appendix and the accompanying CD nicely round off this perfect approach to German-French cross-border understanding. (2+) ☆
(Prix Octogones / Catégorie »Comptine-Poesie«; 2002)
France (French) - 2003 - 113
Begag, Azouz (text)
Claverie, Jean (illus.)
Le théorème de Mamadou
[Paris] : Seuil Jeunesse, 2002.  p.
School – Learning – Age – Transience
»The expressions to educate and to nourish oneself are synonymous.« This statement by his new teacher makes Mamadou think of his old and frail grandparents who are both illiterate and whose memory deteriorates. The old couple, who had to start working as children and are not even able to speak French properly, did not get the chance to read books and use other people’s stories to enrich their own lives. However, when Mamadou concludes that it is useless to go to school because you forget everything anyway, the teacher answers with a »practical« and at the same time very poetical remark. The range of the profound and humorous text that surprises the readers and sets them thinking is perfectly expressed through the softly coloured, partly sketched drawings. (8+) ☆
France (French) - 2003 - 114
Bernos, Clotilde (text)
Novi, Nathalie (illus.)
[Paris] : Rue du Monde, 2002.  p.
Daydreams – Grandfather – Granddaughter – Contentedness
What if I were the queen of England, a horrible old witch, an Egyptian crocodile, a rich emir, or even ruler of the whole world? This picture book presents eight imaginative scenarios which play with this well-known topic. Surprisingly touching is the second part of the book, when the creator of these day-dreams reveals his own identity: It is Ming, an old Chinese man, who cherishes his life and shares some quiet, yet intensive moments of happiness with his granddaughter Nam. The contentedness of the old man, who would never want to swap his destiny with anyone else, is expertly expressed in the bright – and at the same time warm – colours of the illustrations. (6+)
France (French) - 2003 - 115
Brun-Cosme, Nadine (text)
Backès, Michel (illus.)
C’est mon papa!
(It’s my Daddy)
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2002.  p.
Mother – Daughter – Bad temper – Rejection
Anna, the little fox, comes home cheerfully after school. Yet – what is she supposed to do when her mother is in a foul mood and says No to every thing? No TV, no sweets, no friends. Eventually, the father comes home and she jumps into his arms. From that moment on, she says No to everything her mother wants to do for her: »No, not you! Tonight, it’s my Daddy who does it.« But then, Anna cannot fall asleep... With simple yet striking words, this picture book for young readers sheds light on a typical father-mother-child-relationship. The illustrations depict the fox family in bright colours with black outlines. Playing with light and shadow, they convey an atmosphere of family cosiness and security. (2+)
France (French) - 2003 - 116
Tête de molaire
Arles : Actes Sud Junior, 2002. 75 p.
(Cactus Junior) (Ados)
Teenage girl – Handicap – Grandmother – Illness – Separation
»Molar-Head«, that’s what fourteen-year-old Nelly is called because of her deformed head, caused by a forceps delivery. The handicapped girl tells about her father who left her mother ten years ago, about her mother’s death and that of her dog who had been her father’s last present and the only memory left of him. Now, only Nelly and her grandmother remain. They live together in poor circumstances, yet have a very close relationship. One day, grandmother is forced to take Nelly to her father, and life changes dramatically. The strength of this short novel lies in its narrative point of view. The firstperson narrator describes the events with a lot of black humour and self-ironic sarcasm, which perfectly mirrors her grief, her sadness, and finally her despair. (12+)
France (French) - 2003 - 117
Gillot, Laurence (text)
Sibiril, Véronique (text)
Tschiegg, Anne-Sophie (illus.)
Avec votre mère, c’est plus pareil
(With your mother, nothing is as it used to be)
Paris : De La Martinière Jeunesse, 2002. 103 p.
Teenager – Mother – Conflict
Oxygène, a non-fiction series for teenagers, deals with questions arising at the beginning of puberty. It may well be that teenagers suddenly don’t know anymore whether they love or hate their mother. They might want to distinguish themselves from her, yet still need her as a trustworthy protector. In order to explain the ambiguous emotions and the violent and irrational reactions, the book at first analyses the mother-child-relationship from the beginning to the age of puberty. The third part of this clearly structured book, that is accompanied by imaginative, colourful pictures, serves as manual for teenagers’ potential urgent problems. The topic is adequately illustrated with examples, e.g. a mother who suffers from depressions. (11+)
France (French) - 2003 - 118
Paris : Bayard Jeunesse, 2002. 44 p.
(Ariol ; 1) (Bayard Poche)
Friendship – Spare time – Humour
Ariol, the dreamy little donkey, doesn’t like getting up and going to school even though he meets all his friends there: Ramono, the pig boy, Bategaille, the horse boy, and especially, Petula, the cow girl, whom Ariol secretly adores. The first volume of this comic series tells short everyday stories focusing on the affectionately drawn little animal-boy Ariol. Readers watch as the hero plays tennis against himself, all the while commenting on the match and his victory, and as he afterwards sings a song for his beloved Petula in her absence. These stories do not have a complicated plot yet are told in a sensitive way with some quiet humour and in a language full of ironic allusions. The readers follow Ariol in all his pleasures and anxieties. (6+)
France (French) - 2003 - 119
Sa majesté des clones
(Lord of the clones)
[Paris] : Mango Jeunesse, 2002. 225 p.
(Autres mondes ; 12)
Earth – Extra-terrestrial intelligence – War – Cloning
This gripping novel, set in the 25century, combines adventure story, Robinsonade and science fiction and voices its opposition against violence in the tradition of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. The earth’s inhabitants are fighting a 100-year war against the Arachnoids, extra-terrestrial spider-creatures. Some children from the school-station »Mentor « take refuge from a particularly brutal attack in a spaceship which gets smashed to pieces on a remote planet. The surviving children have to learn to cope in a hostile environment. Tensions between them are rising when they discover a mysterious machine, with which human cells can be cloned, in the wreck of an Arachno-spaceship. (10+) ☆
France (French) - 2003 - 120
Labbé, Brigitte (text)
Puech, Michel (text)
Azam, Jacques (illus.)
La violence et la non-violence
(Violence and Non-Violence)
Toulouse : Milan, 2002. 39 p.
(Les goûters philo)
Violence – Non-violence
How quickly can violence arise? How can you break the vicious circle of violence? This book – just like the other non-fiction titles of the series Les goûters philo (The taste of Philosophy) – focuses on an important everyday phenomenon and presents it in a way accessible to children. The authors explain both physical and psychological violence and their mechanisms. Taking simple examples from daily life and using an argumentation which is easy to understand due to its question-and-answer concept, they try to make children think and offer them some solutions – as far as this is possible. In this thin yet informative volume, a difficult problem is treated skillfully and explained, not least because of its humorous illustrations, in an entertaining way. (8+)
France (French) - 2003 - 121
Lacor, Agnès (text)
Scratchy, Lili (illus.)
L’histoire peu ordinaire de monsieur Tichaut
(The unusual story of Mister Tichaut)
[Paris] : Thierry Magnier, 2002. 61 p.
Life story – Hairdresser – Loneliness – Luck
How on earth could Mr. and Ms. Tichaut call their son Léonard? If your name is Léonard Tichaut (artichaud means »artichoke«), you are constantly teased by the other children and become an outsider. Thanks to Juliette de la Chevillette, another lonely child with ugly glasses but a splendid head of hair, Léonard does not only find love but also discovers his love for hair-styling. This humorous and, at the same time, amiable depiction of a hairdresser’s life delights its readers because of the subtly comical, linguistically perfect text and the illustrations rendered in collage technique, with photographs of everyday appliances inserted into partly stylised naïve, partly sketched pictures. (8+)
France (French) - 2003 - 122
La Roche Saint-André, Anne de (text)
Ventrillon, Brigitte (text)
Moncomble, Gérard (text)
Alemagna, Beatrice (illus.)
C’est trop cher : pourquoi la pauvreté
(It’s too expensive : why poverty exists)
Paris : Éd. Autrement, 2002. 47 p.
(Série Société ; 8) (Autrement junior)
Poverty – Unemployment – Homelessness – Dignity – Law
Poverty concerns all of us. In one’s own family, at school, on the streets – everyone has either experienced poverty directly or witnessed it in some form. This non-fiction book offers definitions and lists causes for poverty and some means of fighting it, such as help organisations and amendments to laws. With its glossary and list of addresses, the book is also a helpful manual. Two special features form a reader-friendly addition to the documentation: first the pictures, partly illustrating concrete examples, partly metaphorical, and second an introductory tale, in which a boy hides his family’s poverty caused by his father’s unemployment, from other children. Thus, the term poverty is put into a readily understandable context for children. (9+)
France (French) - 2003 - 123
Mahringer, Marita (text)
Battut, Eric (illus.)
La petite tache rouge
(The little red spot)
Mont-près-Chambord : Bilboquet, 2002.  p.
Spot – Colour – Journey
A small red spot sets out to discover the world and its colours. The little creature, who has some human characteristics, wanders through green hills, the icy white North, a red meadow of flowers, and a yellow desert. After he has refreshed himself in the cool deep-blue waters, he returns to the multicoloured land of the spots. The colours of the fullpage illustrations and the small additional drawings on the text pages, are presented in a variety of shades with a wide brushstroke, interrupted by small, delicately added animals such as fish, birds, or dragonflies. With its black background and cheerful colours, the spot’s home country, which he so boldly and curiously leaves, conveys an atmosphere of peacefulness and security. (5+)
France (French) - 2003 - 124
Mettler, René (text/illus.)
La nature au fil de l’eau
(Water : an expedition through nature)
[Paris] : Gallimard Jeunesse, 2002.  p.
Water – Watercourse – Fauna – Flora
After La Nature au fil des mois (Nature: an expedition through the year) and La Nature au fil des heures (Day and Night: an expedition through nature), René Mettler completes his non-fiction series with the analysis of the world’s most important raw material: water. In the large-format pictures with flaps to lift, the illustrator draws a very accurate and comprehensible account of the water’s course from its source to its mouth where it flows into the ocean. Along the way, next to the springlike brook, the summerly river, the autumn lake, and the sea shore in winter, readers discover a rich fauna and flora which is explained in detail in each of the twelve chapters. The literary journey through the beautiful water scenery invites everybody to verify their newly acquired knowledge in the open countryside. (7+)
(Prix Octogones / Catégorie Prix Graphique; 2002)
France (French) - 2003 - 125
153 jours en hiver
(153 days in winter)
[Paris] : Flammarion, 2002. 171 p.
(Castor poche ; 858 : Aventure)
Mongolia – Grandfather – Granddaughter – Cold – Snow – Eagle – Taming
»Writing and reading are wonderful ways of travelling, « says the author of this young adult novel set in Mongolia. Young Galshan calculates that she will have to stay with her grandfather in the middle of the steppe for 153 days, while her pregnant mother is confined to bed. The girl hardly knows her stubborn grandfather who is rooted in old traditions and dislikes modern-day society. Thus, she has a hard time getting used to his harsh, bitterly cold, and lonely life. While training an eagle, however, the two of them slowly get closer and begin to understand each other’s worlds. This exciting adventurous journey leads the readers into a region where people still have to listen to the voice of nature in order to survive. (12+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2003 - 126
Pommaux, Yvan (text/illus.)
Avant la télé
(Before television existed)
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2002. 44 p.
World War II / Post-war period – France/1953 – Childhood – Everyday life
In 1953, computers, shopping centres, and plastic toys did not yet exist, and television sets and cars were very rare. The story of Alain, an eight-year-old boy from Vichy, shows the readers what a child’s life in a French post-war city might have been like. The realistic and fully detailed illustrations and the text, which doesn’t idealise anything but is still full of humour, mirror the typical everyday life situations in those times: There is no bathroom in his parents’ flat, inistead they share a communal toilet on the staircase; at school, children write on slates and are punished severely for pranks; the children’s games still focuse on the war, and the visits to the cinema used to be a fascinating all-evening event for the young protagonist and his parents. The nostalgic flashback to the 1950s, concluding in our times with Alain being a grandfather, tells so much more to children about the lives of their grandparents than many a history book ever will. (7+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2003 - 127
Rapaport, Gilles (text/illus.)
10 petits soldats
(10 little soldiers)
[Paris] : Circonflexe, 2002.  p.
Soldier – Order – War – Pacifism
Smiling and with a flower pinned to their guns, 10 little soldiers go to war »to defend ... I can’t remember what it was.« Yet, one is growing fat, another one gets lost while picking mushrooms, and thus, one after the other vanishes until only one soldier is left. He takes off his uniform, puts down his gun, and leaves. This large-format picture book is an adaptation of a popular children’s song. It uses an abundance of oppositions: The cheerful atmosphere of the song is in sharp contrast to the topic of war, the tall mighty queen is opposed to the little soldiers, the huge black hats and guns of the soldiers contrast with their tiny bodies. The illustrations’ black colour evokes an impression of wildness and dominates everything. Moreover, it underlines the futility and perversity of war. (8+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2003 - 128
Rouaud, Jean (text)
Nascimbene, Yan (Illus.)
La belle au lézard dans son cadre doré
(The beauty with the lizard in her golden frame)
Paris : Albin Michel, 2002. 30 p.
Writer – Disappointment – Love – Portrait – Love story
A writer, disappointed with love, merely looks at the outside world from his desk and can only write love stories with unhappy endings. Yet, one day, a woman finally makes eyes at him again: It is the »beauty with the lizard«, a portrait in a gold frame on display in a second hand shop. Award-winning author Jean Rouaud’s text fascinates through its ironic play with fiction and reality and the clever change of narrative perspectives between an omniscient narrator (»our author«) and the interior monologue of the protagonist. The full- and half-page illustrations which show only small details of the plot, leave readers enough room to create their own picture of what is real and what isn’t in this story. (10+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2003 - 129
Satrapi, Marjane (text/illus.)
Paris : Nathan, 2002.  p.
Girl – Earthquake – Confusion – Dragon – Earth – Environmental awareness
Once upon a time, there was a colourful land with many happy inhabitants, until, one day, an earthquake puts everything upside down and nothing is as it used to be. Only little Mathilde, who had been rope-skipping and had therefore not touched the earth, remains »undisturbed«. That is why the King sends her to dragon Ajdar who heats the interior of the earth with his fire. Having finally arrived at the dragon’s after a long journey, Mathilde learns about the earthquake’s cause: On the surface of the earth, machines had drilled such deep holes that they hurt the dragon’s spine. The vivid colours of the imaginative illustrations and the fairytale-like, partly rhymed text form a parable that aims at making children more aware of a responsible treatment of planet earth. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2003 - 130
Sazonoff, Zazie (text/illus.)
Chapotat, Fred (photogr.)
Mots de tête
Rodez : Éd. du Rouergue, 2002.  p.
Words – Head – Pun – Meaning
What can you do when your head is filled with words and neither your teacher, nor your parents, or your friends want to hear them? Don’t let them discourage you! Just continue your expedition and go searching for words so far unknown: Terms of endearment, important words, or even cruel words. When you have finally collected so many words that your head is about to burst, there is only one thing that will help you feel as light as a feather again – your exercise book. The graphics perfectly depict the situation of the little, comic-like hero drawn in black ink. He moves around in collages with the text woven into photographs of everyday things, into paper scraps from magazines, into books, and people’s portraits. (4+)
(Prix Octogones, Catégorie Tout-petits; 2002)
France (French) - 2004 - 106
Les larmes de l’assassin
(The killer’s tears)
Paris : Bayard Jeunesse, 2003. 226 p.
Murderer – Boy – Loneliness – Affection
Somewhere in Chile, the wanted murderer Angel Allegria discovers a modest farmhouse, kills the owners (little Paolo’s parents) and moves in. The strange companionship between the boy and his parents’ murderer starts to grow into something like affection when suddenly the educated traveller Luis Secunda turns up. In this exciting parable, set apart from reality in a spaceless and timeless universe, a number of antagonisms are discussed: life versus death, love versus violence, good versus bad, nature versus culture, etc. The narration releases the readers without solving these ambiguities and without providing a moral. Still, it makes them see that supposedly established axioms and preconceived judgements have to be questioned. (14+)
France (French) - 2004 - 107
Destins de femmes : filles et femmes afghanes
(Women’s fates : Afghan girls and women)
Paris : Syros Jeunesse, 2003. 95 p.
(Collection J’accuse ...)
Afghanistan – War – Taliban – Woman
From various points of view and with different literary genres, this book calls to mind the fate of Afghan girls and women. At the beginning, a short tale relates the fate of young Nahib and her family whose carefree life ends abruptly after the Taliban’s rise to power. This is followed by the touching stories of three women interviewed in Afghanistan in 2002. They highlight not only the suppression of women by the Taliban but also their influence on the life of wives and daughters after the regime’s collapse. The book ends with some moving poems, followed by a useful appendix containing a glossary, important names, and the declaration of the basic rights of Afghan women, which was signed in Tajikistan in 2000. (12+) ☆
France (French) - 2004 - 108
Dumortier, David (text)
Mellinette, Martine (illus.)
Ces gens qui sont des arbres
(Those people who are trees)
Chambon-sur-Lignon : Cheyne, 2003. 44 p.
(Poèmes pour grandir)
Man – Tree
This small collection of short, prose poems focuses on the topic of ‘trees’. Nevertheless, it is ‘humankind’ that the poems really reflect on. They are the result of a humorous discourse about people and trees, of how they are connected or may grow closer to each other. At the bottom of all this, you may often become aware of sensitively portrayed human and social phenomena, such as vanity, superficiality, poverty, or migration. The short poems, which may be interpreted in different ways depending on the readers’ backgrounds, are pleasantly embedded in collages of rainbow-coloured illustrations and scraps of copied telephone books. In accordance with the content of the texts, the illustrator again manages to underline the connection between man and nature. (10+) ☼
France (French) - 2004 - 109
Un autre que moi
(Somebody else, not me)
Paris : De La Martinière, 2003. 155 p.
Teenager – Boarding school – Indifference – Loneliness
Seven days in the life of a 15-year-old boy. A life between the coldness of the loathed boarding school and the weekends at home which usually only last about twenty hours. Since the adolescent’s questions and worries are met with his family’s indifference and inability to communicate, and with the cold atmosphere of a school routine, the first-person-narrator wants to become ‘invisible’. »Somebody else, not he« lives this life away from warmth, security, sympathy, and explanations. Bernard Friot’s memories deeply touch the reader’s soul with their simple and poetic language. They are part of a new series called »Confessions «, in which four popular authors of teenage fiction have so far offered a personal glimpse into their own past. (13+)
France (French) - 2004 - 110
Grandin, Aurélia (text/illus.)
Raymond, pêcheur d’amour de sardines
(Ramond, fishing for love and sardines)
[Paris] : Rue du Monde, 2003.  p.
Fisherman – Sea – Underwater world – Mermaid – Love
The pages of this picture book, which takes readers into a colourful underwater world, are brightly coloured and designed like a poster. Raymond, a fisherman, discovers a message in a bottle written by lovely mermaid Undine who desperately seeks help. To free her from tyrant Zéidon, the young man dives into the world of sea-creatures. After having survived a number of adventures as tunaman, love triumphs in the end. Imaginative collages with scraps of (land- and sea-) maps, playing cards, and postcards, scattered among the humorous and partly grotesque illustrations, plus the love-sick Raymond’s lament, or a recipe for magic powder that paralyses huge octopuses, leave no room for boredom. (5+)
France (French) - 2004 - 111
Grégoire, Fabian (text/illus.)
Les enfants de la mine
(The children in the coal mines)
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2003. 45 p.
Mining – Coal – Child labour – Mining accident
Luis and Tounet say goodbye to their teacher. As the two boys have turned ten, they will have to work in the coal mines from now on. The next day, their new life underground amongst clouds of coal dust starts, where they suffer under unbearable heat and a tyrannical foreman. While Luis is lucky enough to work for the mining engineer, Tounet is sent into a dangerous old part of the mine called »hell« from where he will not return. Based on a true incident, this story is set in the French town of Sainte-Etienne in the middle of the 19century. Similar to a photo documentary but with a lot of empathy, the book describes how the two children are exploited. An appendix adds clear information about coal mining and child labour. (8+)
France (French) - 2004 - 112
Helft, Claude (text)
Jiang Hong, Chen (illus.)
Hatchiko, chien de Tokyo
(Hatchiko, a dog from Tokyo)
Paris : Desclée de Brouwer, 2003. 20 p.
(Petite collection clé)
Tokyo/1925 – Train station – Dog – Owner – Death – Loyalty
Tokyo 1925: Every day, Hatchiko the dog accompanies his owner to the railway station and waits for his return from work in the evening. When the old man suddenly dies of heart failure and does not return, Hatchiko waits in vain. Nonetheless, the dog sits at exactly the same spot every day until he, too, dies. The simple unobtrusive text and the illustrations, rendered in pen-and-ink drawings in subdued colours that play with light and shadows, paint an authentic picture of the time and place of the action and create a touching atmosphere. The story is a true story. After the dog’s death, people erected a life-size statue in front of the station. In today’s hectic city life, Hatchiko still awaits all those travellers whom nobody waits for as a symbol of loyalty. (5+) ☼
France (French) - 2004 - 113
Et si on comptait ...
Paris : Tourbillon, 2003.  p.
Numbers – Counting – Mathematics
1 child dressed as Santa Claus, 2 giraffes in the savanna, 2 happy parents with their child (2+1=3), 4 chairs in a snow-covered park, 5 differently shaped cucumbers, 3 pairs of dancing girls (2+2+2=6), ... This masterly arranged selection of photographs from the archives of the famous Magnum agency inspires toddlers to start counting and, on every other page, offers an easy sum that comments on the respective picture. 45 photographs in all, some black-and-white, others full of bright colours, encourage children to play with numbers and take a first step into mathematics. Moreover, this aesthetically appealing photographic picture book may introduce the youngest readers to the art of photography and the interpretation of pictures. (3+) ☼
France (French) - 2004 - 114
L’Algérie : des origines à nos jours
(Algeria. From the beginning to the present day)
Paris : Éd. Autrement, 2003. 63 p.
(Autrement junior : Série Histoire ; 11)
Algeria – History – Society
The Algeria-Year in France (2003) has inspired many children’s book publishers to take a closer look at this country which maintains a difficult relationship with France since the 1830s. Jean- Jacques Jordi takes on the task of analysing the »rich country, inhabited by poor people« from its early beginnings, reaching back to the Numid era, the Roman and later the Turkish occupation, all the way to the present. Using explanatory photographs and maps, as well as old and new pictures, the author relates more than mere facts; he also provides background information that helps readers understand, among other things, the increase of a radical Islamic movement. That is what makes this non-fiction book for children such a successful first introduction to the Algerian society. (10+) ☆
France (French) - 2004 - 115
Lenain, Thierry (text)
Balez, Olivier (illus.)
Paris : Albin Michel, 2003.  p.
France – Algeria – War – Love – Child
»Love is stronger than war.« Yet, before this becomes reality, Maurice from France and Habib from Algeria take up their arms to defend their countries. Their son and daughter, however, seize the opportunity provided by peace and fall in love with each other. Wahid, their son, is evidence enough for the fact that love can overcome differences and cross borders. His cheeky smile at the end of the picture book optimistically hints at a future full of hope. Both the illustrations painted in clear and vivid colours and the short, simple text focus on the essential issues. Overall, they tell the story of two nations’ tolerance, and in particular that of the love between two people. (6+) ☆
France (French) - 2004 - 116
Meunier, Henri (text)
Lejonc, Régis (illus.)
Lejonc, Antoine (illus.)
La môme aux oiseaux
(The bird girl)
Rodez : Éd. du Rouergue, 2003.  p.
Boy – Secret – Girl – Bird
When questioned about why he is always late for school, a small boy resorts to lies. What he really does is secretly watch a witch-like mystic girl who conjures up a bird out of thin air, a different one each day, and lets it fly off from her hands. Which kind of bird appears, seems to depend on the girl’s mood, the respective »girl of the day«. The poetic, highly metaphorical text almost seems to be floating on the dark, warmly coloured illustrations. Interrupted by the young protagonist’s own drawings (actually created by the illustrator’s son), the book’s pictures show the boy sometimes as a tiny figure lost in a colossal environment and other times as a huge being too large to fit on a fullpage. Thus, the illustrations create a melancholic and mysterious atmosphere. (6+)
France (French) - 2004 - 117
[Paris] : Grasset-Jeunesse, 2003. 221 p.
(Lampe de poche ; 70)
Sexual abuse – Violence – Vigilantism
The first meeting with his new classmate Djamila strikes Vincent as a bolt from the blue. From now on, Djamila and the mystery that surrounds her become an obsession for the 17-year-old who has been drifting through life without aim since his sister’s death. At the end of his search, Vincent is mercilessly confronted with the fact that desperate Djamila, who is the victim of sexual abuse, takes the law into her own hands. Set in 2001, immediately after September 11, and embedded in an authentic description of the daily routine of French teenagers, this taboo-breaking story about two strong protagonists, stands apart because of its psychologically sensitive treatment of sexual abuse and the captivating elements of a crime novel. (14+)
France (French) - 2004 - 118
Moncomble, Gérard (text)
Fortier, Natali (illus.)
Les voisins font un cirque le dimanche
(On Sundays, the neighbours put on a circus performance)
[Paris] : Magnier, 2003.  p.
Block of flats – Tenants – Sunday – Circus
There is a colourful bunch of people living at Mimosa Alley, Block 1, Staircase 1: a family with many children, a man lifting weights, an African healer, and many more. During the week, they all pursue their more or less enjoyable jobs, but on Sunday everything is different: The tenants put on a circus performance for the whole neighbourhood and everybody joins in: The multi-child family turns into a group of acrobats, the weightlifter into the »strongest man on earth«, and the healer into a magician. Their metamorphosis from normal suburban people into illustrious circus artists is captured in the verses that play with words and levels of language, and in the sometimes sketchy poetic pictures that do not idealise anything despite the warm pastel shades. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2004 - 119
Maboul à zéro
[Paris] : Gallimard, 2003. 157 p.
Immigration – School – Epilepsy – Racism
In his politically comitted teenage novel, inspired by the alarming shift to the right during the first stage of the French presidential elections in April 2002, Jean-Paul Nozière gives names and faces to the victims of day-to-day racism. His example shows the fate of immigrants whose escape from the repressions of the radical Islamic politics in Algeria does not end happily in France. 14-yearold Aïcha, highly intelligent, enjoys helping her mother with her work as caretaker of a school. She was exempted from lessons because of her epilepsy. Without anyone knowing it, she takes distance learning courses to prepare for her A-levels and tries to keep her older mentally disabled brother’s fits under control. All the while, she is acutely aware of both the open and the hidden attacks against her family in this small French town. By weaving the mother’s memories into the story, the author presents two women whose lives are strongly determined by intolerance – religious fanaticism in Algeria on the one hand, and racism in France on the other hand. (13+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 2004 - 120
Paris : Didier Jeunesse, 2003.  p.
Circus – Talent – Journey – Experience
Philbert’s mother is a circus rider, his father a tightrope acrobat, but the poor boy himself doesn’t seem to have any special talent. Thus, the circus director throws him out. Along his way, he encounters a street orchestra and catches their notes with his suitcase. He walks past a school, hears children recite poems, and ‘plucks’ some of their words. When, on top of all that, he picks up some children’s laughter, his suitcase becomes very heavy – but his heart is suddenly light and his head full of ideas. He returns to the circus and gives an extraordinary performance. In the dynamic and cheerful illustrations of this book, figures made from salt dough and plasticine act on a dream stage and invite readers to join them for a quiet poetic journey. (4+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2004 - 121
Sazonoff, Zazie (text)
Chapotat, Fred (illus.)
L’album des contraires
(The book of opposites)
[Paris] : Mila Éd., 2003.  p.
Opposites – Toys
This large-format picture book of photographs about opposites is funky, fresh, and full of colours. On double-spread pages, a surprising and humorous collection of objects and materials unfolds. A figure created from potatoes and one created from beans, for example, represent »big« and »small«, while Olivia, wife of the famous cartoon hero Popeye, scrambling about on a coat hanger, illustrates the meaning of »the right way around« and »upside down«. Thus, conventional toys, figures, and objects made from rolls of toilet paper, wool, cheese cartons, vegetables, fabric, or cardboard portray adjectives, nouns, or verbs with opposite meanings. This picture book offers a lot of fun both to the very young and to parents and children reading together. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2004 - 122
Séonnet, Michel (text)
Geiger, Cécile (illus.)
Paris : Éd. Sarbacane, 2003.  p.
Boy – War – Grief – Reading – Writing
The children’s face portrayed on the front cover already hints at the book’s content: Madassa’s large sad eyes talk about the cruelties of war: about hunger, the painful loss of his siblings, shootings, and death. Grief, fear, and anger leave no room in his head for words. Thus, Madassa can neither read nor write. Yet, when the teacher reads stories to him that describe exactly these feelings but also tell him about the happiness of dancing, these words stay in his head. And soon Madassa starts writing ... The large-format illustrations are dominated by the boy’s omnipresent expressive face and the symbolic descriptions that – thanks to the power of reading and writing – turn from negative into positive ones. (7+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 2004 - 123
Tullet, Hervé (text/illus.)
Les cinq sens
(The five senses)
[Paris] : Seuil Jeunesse, 2003.  p.
Seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting. Already on the front cover of this »picture book of the senses«, the readers do not only see the drawing of a hand but can also feel it. With a great deal of imagination and humour, Hervé Tullet offers a wide range of pictures that invite young readers to explore the five senses. The colourful and imaginative illustrations, interspersed with words and short texts, are playfully and elaborately designed. They are full of puns, allusions, and picture puzzles, such as a »mirror« that reflects the »fairest of them all« on one page, or a human profile with a huge nose on another. The journey through the senses culminates in the »sixth sense«, which puts everything into a nutshell and alludes to the child’s power of imagination. (3+)
France (French) - 2005 - 103
Alemagna, Beatrice (text/illus.)
Histoire courte d’une goutte
(Short tale of a drop of water)
Paris : Éd. Autrement Jeunesse, 2004.  p.
Water drop – Life – Disappearance
A drop of water is not merely a drop of water. It is full of life. Before quickly evaporating on the pavement, it goes on a colourful and adventurous journey. »How many things exist that disappear again before anyone has had the time to see them properly?« – This is how the quiet, sensitive tale ends. Its text – sometimes poetic and melodious, sometimes energetic, or brief and succinct – accompanies the drop on its way. The large illustrations enable readers to dive into a fantastic imaginative world. The artist’s impressive and creative use of various techniques, materials, and colours results in numerous interesting details well worth to be discovered. As an additional treat, a beautiful print by Beatrice Alemagna is enclosed with each book. (4+) ☼
France (French) - 2005 - 104
La vie comme elle vient
(Life, just as it comes)
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2004. 251 p.
Death – Grief – Siblings – Adolescence – Birth
»Life, just as it comes« suddenly shows its worst side to 15-year-old Mado when her parents die in a car crash. Her 20-year-old sister Patty becomes her legal guardian even though in reality, she is the one who would be lost without her clever, responsible little sister. Patty is expecting a child from Luigi, a man she doesn’t love anymore, and is seriously considering an abortion. Together with the first-person narrator, readers are swept along, as if in a torrential current, from high to low, from tears to laughter. In the end, all these nerve-wrecking experiences as well as her first love make Mado develop into a strong young woman. (13+)
France (French) - 2005 - 105
Brami, Élisabeth (text)
Lemoine, Georges (illus.)
Paris : Seuil, 2004.  p.
Woman – Girl – Loneliness – Optimism
A little girl knocks on a door. A woman lets her in and is suddenly roused from her depressed, suicidal mood. This picture book’s metaphorical, poetical verses full of hope conclude by telling the readers that this is the child hiding deep within each and everyone of us, only waiting to be invited to enter. The delicate pastel drawings are every bit as tender, sensitive, and metaphorical as the text. Large illustrations, spreading almost across the entire double-page at the beginning and the end of the book are surrounded by small pictures that perfectly translate the message of how universal loneliness is. They offer an ingenious and touching play with light and shadow, with the effect of space, and with graphic symbols. (8+)
France (French) - 2005 - 106
Deshors, Sylvie (text)
Sicaud, Natacha (illus.)
Des jours blancs
Rodez : Éd. du Rouergue, 2004. 73 p.
Mother – Depression – Daughter – Independence
»You are the most beautiful butterfly,« Lalou writes to her mother because she is often distant and unreachable for the girl. Lalou’s mother suffers from severe depression. She »flies« from one mood into the next and thus the girl witnesses »red days«, when the mother is hyperactive, »black days«, when she sleeps all day long, and »white days«, when she goes into hospital. Very bravely, the girl manages the odd day alone and is warmly received by a neighbouring couple. The first-person narrator’s simple language is particularly moving because of the daughter’s tender words to her mother. The minimalist black-and-white drawings further add to the touching tone of the little book. (10+) ☼
France (French) - 2005 - 107
Au royaume du Nil
(In the kingdom of the Nile)
Paris : Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2004. 43 p.
Egypt – Nile – Ancient times – Gods
The intention of this publisher is to provide children with an entertaining introduction to art by reproducing selected artefacts from various museums. This intention has been successfully fulfilled in this nonfiction picture book presenting 25 masterly objects from the Musée du Louvre. Young ›explorers‹ embark on a trip to the Nile where Egyptian civilisation had its origins about 5,000 years ago. While on the right-hand page, exhibition objects, paintings, sculptures, reliefs, and even tools are displayed, on the respective left-hand ›page within a page‹, readers can take a closer look at selected details and find historical background information. Thus, they do not only learn something about extant Egyptian works of art, but also about the life and beliefs in Ancient Egypt. (10+) ☆
France (French) - 2005 - 108
Douzou, Olivier (text/illus.)
[Nantes] : Éd. MeMo, 2004.  p.
(Collection tout-petits MeMômes)
Hedgehog – Present – Balloon – Cactus
Mik, the little hedgehog, has a problem: He is definitely not happy with his birthday presents. A game called spillikins, a soft toy, and a comb are no replacements for what he wants most: a soft round balloon. Mik sulks – and is finally granted his wish. Yet, when a spiky hedgehog plays with a balloon, it isn’t long before the inevitable happens ... The short and easy text and the compact illustrations try to get to the bottom of why children are always attracted to exactly those things that their parents consider silly or dangerous. The high-quality book-design lends additional expressive power to the soft red-orange-brown shades of colour inside the illustrations set against a yellow background. (3+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 109
Fdida, Jean-Jacques (text)
Lejonc, Régis (illus.)
Machado, Jean-Marie (music)
L’oiseau de vérité : un conte musical
(The bird of truth : a musical tale)
Paris : Didier Jeunesse, 2004.  p. + 1 CD
Prince – Princess – Kidnapping – Identity – Truth – Fairy tale
This book, based on the folk tale »The Three Golden Sons«, tells the story of three princes who are snatched from their mother immediately after their birth. As adolescents, they go on a quest for their own identity. This dangerous journey of initiation follows the rule of »Never look back!« The text never reveals too much and lends a certain gravity to the story that is mirrored in the dark yet soft earth-coloured illustrations. The combination of text and pictures, some of which seem to be cut off, the playful use of light and darkness, and the ambiguity of people and places depicted create a sinister and mysterious atmosphere that leaves ample room for the reader’s imagination. The enclosed audio-CD, which offers a reading and a musical interpretation of the text, complements this picture book perfectly. (8+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 110
J’ai vécu les camps de concentration : la Shoah
(I’ve lived through the concentration camps : the Shoah)
Paris : Bayard éditions, 2004. 95 p.
(Les dossiers Okapi; Le Mémorial de Caen)
World War II – Nazi regime – Prosecution of the Jews – Concentration camp
»My true revenge is to never stop talking even though the Nazis did their best to silence me.« What these three Jewish eye-witnesses tell about their sufferings during the cruel Nazi regime is stirring and touching. They were between 11 and 15 years old when the prosecution of the Jews started to spread through Europe. Luckily enough, they survived the Warsaw Ghetto, Neuengamme, and Auschwitz respectively. Today, they still carry memories in their hearts of those friends and relatives who were killed there. The new series »J’ai vécu« (I have lived through ...) wants to make the most moving events of the 20th century come alive for teenagers not only by stating mere facts and dates but also through personal reports, photos, and documents. An extensive dossier at the end provides the required background knowledge. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 111
Hoestlandt, Maud (text)
Hubesch, Nicolas (illus.)
La Justice à petits pas
(Law and Justice in small steps)
Arles : Actes Sud Junior, 2004. 62 p.
(À petits pas)
Law – Justice – International Law
The non-fiction series called »À petits pas« (In small steps) strives to explain to children various matters of interest from the world around them. This volume tackles the complex issue of law and justice, which is often difficult to grasp, in a high-quality text that is nevertheless accessible to children. It moves from the apparently simple question »Justice – what’s that?« to »How does the administration of justice work?« and then to the field of international law. The helpful order of the chapters, the humorous and witty drawings, the quiz, and the little glossary at the end of the book explain technical terms and provide useful information about the history, structure, and organisation of law and justice in a very entertaining way. (10+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 112
Le Craver, Jean-Louis (text)
Saillard, Rémi (illus.)
Le chat-tigre : conte yao de Chine
(The tiger-cat : a Yao tale from China)
[Paris] : Syros Jeunesse, 2004. 124 p.
(Paroles de conteurs)
Siblings – Tiger-Cat – Envy – Jealousy – Fairy tale
Jean-Louis Le Craver tells a story of sibling rivalry losely based on a folk tale from the Yaos, an ethnic minority in Southern China and Northern Laos. It focuses on two brothers: The older one has the remarkable gift to always influence his fate in a favourable way, while the younger one is so obsessed with envy, that he acts clumsily and unsuccessfully and eventually runs away. When the older brother marries the youngest daughter of the dragon king, her eldest sister is suddenly filled to the brim with jealousy about their happiness – a mistake that leads to a sad end for her. The comprehensible text clearly keeps to the motto of this series called »Paroles des conteurs« (The storyteller’s words), i.e. »tales as they are told rather than written down«. The exotic, fairy tale-like atmosphere is confirmed by striking black-and-red lino-cuts. (6+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 113
Louis, Catherine (illus.)
Shi, Bo (calligraphies)
Mon imagier chinois
(My Chinese picture-dictionary)
Arles : Picquier, 2004. [ca. 206] p.
Chinese character – Ideogram
The China-Year in France (2003/2004) has also left some marks on French children’s literature. In this picture-dictionary, even the youngest children are given an introduction to Chinese characters and their origin. On the left-hand pages, calligraphies of the old and the modern characters, as well as their meaning and pronunciation are displayed. On the corresponding right-hand pages, the ideograms are interpreted through lino-cuts on coloured paper that have a striking resemblance to the real character. Readers will be fascinated as they follow the path of the original object from its early character to the present one. The fact that Chinese characters do not represent sounds but refer to concrete concepts will certainly arouse the readers’ curiosity about Chinese writing and culture. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 114
Que justice soit faite : roman
(May justice be done)
Paris : Grasset-Jeunesse, 2004. 199 p.
(Lampe de poche ; 76)
Book – Threat – Murder – Suicide – Past
A school librarian addresses Inspector Campin and reports that more and more books turn up in his library from which certain words are missing. At first, the cut-out words combined seem nothing but incomprehensible hints and threats to Campin. When the librarian is found dead, however, the inspector has to take the case seriously. At the same time, Julie, an ardent fan of detective novels, also follows the clues and puts herself in danger. The solution to this case lies in an old mystery that involves not only the dead librarian but also other staff members from school. This captivating detective novel is never boring, thanks to the frequent unexpected turns of events; it ends when things that were long left unsaid are finally laid open. (12+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 115
Mourlevat, Jean-Claude (text)
Alemagna, Beatrice (illus.)
La troisième vengeance de Robert Poutifard
(Robert Poutifard’s third act of revenge)
[Paris] : Gallimard Jeunesse, 2004. 168 p.
(Hors-piste ; 21)
Teacher – Pupil – Nasty trick – Revenge
As a child, Robert Poutifard was always teased by his classmates for being tall and fat. So when he later decided to become a teacher, it was hardly due to his love for children but out of feelings of revenge. Now, 37 years later, he has just retired and has but one thing on his mind: vengeance. He randomly picks out three pupils who remind him of those who played nasty tricks on him and humiliated him. The first two acts of revenge are a great success for him – and their preparation has finally given his life new meaning. But then he starts on the third one and slowly comes to realise that forgiveness can make you happy, too. This biting satire with a conciliatory ending stands apart for its humour deriving from the reversal of roles and for its vivid and often burlesque style. (9+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 116
E-den <name of a drug>
Paris : Thierry Magnier, 2004. 205 p.
Future – Father – Son – Drug addiction – Coma
15-year-old Goran and his father Serge, an internationally renowned drug expert, live in Paris a few years in the future. The high-tech-age with ultramodern security, communication, and transport systems dominates everyday life. Together with the two protagonists, who alternate in telling the story from their respective points of view, the readers dive into the world of the cyber-drug »Eden«. When the father starts working on a new case, Goran is fascinated and curious. Both realistic and utopian elements are mixed successfully in this believable science-fiction novel. It soon becomes obvious how terrible our world would be if paradise (Eden) were merely a virtual reality and people were not safely embedded in a social and humane environment. (12+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 117
Osterwalder, Hans Ulrich
Bertrand, Pierre (transl./research)
Les os de mon squelette : l’histoire d’une fracture
(The bones of my skeleton : the story of a fracture)
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2004. 45 p.
Bones – Fracture – X-ray – Skeleton
A young boy argues with his friend, falls down the stairs, and breaks his shin bone. At the hospital, the leg is X-rayed and put in plaster. This frame story accompanies the non-fiction picture book about bones and fractures. With the utmost attention to didactics, the book leads from general observations to particular details, from the human skeleton and its bones to the bone structure and growth, before it eventually returns to the frame story. The human protagonists are depicted as mere shadows or schemes, whereas the bones and their structure are presented in highly detailed colour plates. At the end of this carefully-researched book, an appendix offers further explanations and definitions of technical terms. (7+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 118
Papa se met en quatre
(Daddy gives it everything)
Paris : Albin Michel Jeunesse, 2004.  p.
Mother – Father – Children – Housework – Spot
»Lucie and Victor got married and had many children. « That’s the well-known fairy tale ending this picture book starts with. Yet, it isn’t a fairy tale but a nice everyday episode about a large family. One morning, when the mother is called away for two days, she leaves the seven children in the care of the father, who longs to prove that he has everything under control. He decides that the kitchen needs a thorough cleaning – so they wipe and sweep and polish … but what’s that?! There is a black spot on the floor and they all claim: »It wasn’t me!« The light-hearted, lyrical text, mostly in rhymes, is scattered among the sketchy drawings. Particularly impressive are the contrasts of black and white, the various vague sketches, and the colourful details that will immediately catch the readers’ eyes. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 119
Serres, Alain (text)
Jarrie, Martin (illus.)
Une cuisine grande comme un jardin : 60 recettes pour découvrir les fruits et les légumes du monde
(A kitchen the size of a garden)
Voisins-le-Bretonneux : Rue du Monde, 2004. 68 p.
Vegetables – Fruit – Recipe – Cooking
In 2001, the publisher-cum-author Alain Serres travelled the world with his book »Une cuisine grande comme le monde« (A kitchen the size of the world). Now, he explores the world of fruit and vegetables through 60 recipes arranged according to starter, main course, and dessert. They are complemented by historical and modern comments on nutrition as well as international sayings and puns about fruit. However, this is much more than just an appealing cook book for children. Large-format, full-page pictures of ripe fruits and vegetables, placed against a coarsely-textured, colourful, almost tangible background, are sitting before the readers’ eyes. Through a play with light and shadows, the fruits are turned into ›stars‹ who are proud to be in the limelight. (7+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 120
À la rencontre des chevaliers
(Discovering the world of knights)
[Paris] : Père Castor Flammarion, 2004. 127 p.
Knight – Knighthood – Middle Ages – Honour
Although they lived in the Middle Ages, they still continue to fascinate people today as symbols of ideal virtue, as brave fighters, or as popular heroes like Lancelot, Arthur, or Parsifal. This non-fiction title for children, which combines the historical and the literary view on knighthood, attempts to answer the following questions: Who were these knights? What was their life like? Which values were important for them? What role did hunting, war, and competitions play? Detailed insertions, explanations of terms, excerpts from literary texts, and illustrative pictures turn this non-fiction book into an informative and exciting read. (10+)
France (French) - 2006 - 105
Baussier, Sylvie (text)
Devaux, Clément (illus.)
Le livre de la Mer
(The book of the sea)
Paris : Nathan, 2005. 118 p.
Sea Legend – Discovery
How important are the world’s oceans? What kind of legends have emerged about them? What kind of adventures have they inspired? What kind of dreams and techniques has humankind developed to discover and appropriate the sea? This original non-fiction title offers four chapters to introduce the sea as habitat and to take an informative and humorously poetic look at the mysteries of the ocean, its discovery, and its use and exploitation through humans. The short texts are as witty and entertaining as the overall design of the book, which is characterised by a mixture of photographs, comic-book-like sequences of drawings, and full-page colour illustrations. (8+)
France (French) - 2006 - 106
Bigot, Robert (text)
Grenier, Christian (text)
Le mal en patience
Paris : Syros Jeunesse, 2005. 128 p.
(Collection les uns les autres)
(Published in cooperation with »Pharmacists Without Frontiers«)
Pharmacists Without Frontiers Bosnian War
Patrick feels unhappy in his job as a pharmacist, so he joins the humanitarian organisation »Pharmacists Without Frontiers« and goes to Bosnia during the Bosnian war. He keeps in contact with his home country by writing to his childhood friend Romain. In their letters, the two men describe their current work but also try to come to terms with their past. In addition, the story also contains other mail correspondence and diary entries. This narrative form lends a great amount of authenticity to the fictitious letters, which touches the readers especially because it does not deal with cruel war situations but focuses on the daily life in times of war with all its worries and problems. (13+) ☆
France (French) - 2006 - 107
Paris : Bayard Jeunesse, 2005. 350 p.
American Civil War USA/1775-1783 – Young woman – Escape – Love
Bella Rossa is an extremely energetic young woman with flaming red hair. Yet, she is fed up with her life at the small farm with her severely handicapped father. When the American Civil War approaches their farm, Bella Rossa seizes the opportunity to flee from the stifling small place to the West and embarks on a quest for love, respect, and happiness. Compared to this fascinating woman, the men around her seem weak and full of mistakes such as the dependent father who likes to drink a bit too much sometimes, or Jaroslaw, the love of her life, a tender but unfaithful soldier. Consequently, all the attention in this gripping unconventional Wild West novel focuses on the exceptional, strong-minded heroine. (13+)
France (French) - 2006 - 108
Brami, Elisabeth (text)
Nascimbene, Yan (illus.)
Les vieux enfants
(The old children)
Paris : Éd. du Panama, 2005.  p.
Old age Loneliness – Childhood – Dignity
They lost their parents, walk with small steps, have grey hair and not many teeth left. Some of them suffer inside their bodies, others fall in love, some are active and energetic and others seem to be waiting for something. Like everybody else, they celebrate their birthdays, and without love, they wither away. This poetic picture book does not simply focus on old people but rather on »the old children«. The rhymed verses talk of sympathy for the problems of growing older, of a respectful behaviour towards old people who, like children, want to be listened to and loved. Realistic pictures full of hidden details interpret the moments depicted in a sensitive and moving way without being in the least kitschy. (5+)
France (French) - 2006 - 109
Brenifier, Oscar (text)
Moüy, Iris de (illus.)
La vérité selon Ninon
(The truth according to Ninon)
Paris : Éd. Autrement, 2005. 63 p.
(Autrement Jeunesse) (Les petits albums de philosophie)
Truth Lie – White lie – Concealment
This new series introduces young readers to a number of philosophical topics through tales about eight-year-old Ninon, her family, friends, and acquaintances. The first volume focuses on the question of truth. While playing, Ninon accidentally breaks the vase in the living room. She lies about it and thus the family’s anger descends upon her. Why do people lie? Are there good and bad lies? Does the absolute truth exist? By discussing the girl’s questions and weaving philosophical stories into them, terms like honesty, openness, believability, trust, perception, and reality are tackled. The comic-book-like design and the short, simple text render this a suitable, topical guide to life’s essential questions for children. (8+)
France (French) - 2006 - 110
Cauwet, Nouchka (text)
Reznikov, Patricia (illus.)
Ecrire le monde : la naissance des alphabets
(Writing the world : the birth of the alphabets)
Paris : Belem Éd., 2005. 64 p.
Alphabet Creation – Development – Painting
This large-format ABC-book offers a playful and poetic, as well as artistic and highly aesthetic description of how the alphabets were originally created and then developed further. Each letter is presented on a double-page spread. Every simple explanation of the linguistic and historical development is accompanied by a suitable poem and by a painting created by a well-known artist. Right at the beginning of the book, a story pointing out the necessity of an alphabet confirms the fact that a unified form of writing simplifies human communication. At the end, the author provides additional information about the existence of alphabets other than the Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Arabic, and Chinese one. (8+) ☆
France (French) - 2006 - 111
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2005. 194 p.
Paris/1885 Montmartre – Girl – Social injustice
In 1885, 13-year-old Séraphine lives in the Montmartre quarter of Paris and works as seamstress for the bourgeoisie. Although she does not exactly feel unhappy, she is determined to change her own life as well as the social injustice around her, and, thanks to her determination, she succeeds. This slightly feminist, political teenage novel tells the story of a strong-minded girl set against the backdrop of the historical and social changes 14 years after the Paris Commune in 1871. By describing many social classes and historical phenomena, such as the bourgeoisie, the clergy, the underworld, child poverty, or political and social rebels, the author creates a colourful picture of the everyday life at those times. (12+)
France (French) - 2006 - 112
Le petit homme et la mer
(The little man and the sea)
[Nantes] : Éd. MeMo, 2005.  p.
Sea Fishing – Fish – Friendship – Animal / Human being
A little man takes his boat and goes out to sea. He is determined to catch the biggest fish in the world and take it back home so that everyone admires him. Instead, he himself gets caught by a huge fish, who proudly presents the »gnome« to his parents. Luckily enough, they do not accept that their child tortures a helpless little creature. The author combines simple yellow-green illustrations with clear black outlines added by softly flowing brush-strokes, and a comprehensible language to tell a loving and humorous story about power, strength, friendship, taking, and giving. (4+)
France (French) - 2006 - 113
Galea, Claudine (text)
Dewanckel, Goele (illus.)
Rodez : Éd. du Rouergue, 2005.  p.
Father Mother – Separation – Child – Grief
»Without you« is a picture book dealing with absence, waiting, and separation. »Without you, Mummy doesn’t put on blue eye-shadow anymore, « the daughter says full of grief after her father has left. The protagonists’ bodies are depicted in partly bold, partly pale, cold colours, with heads hanging down, lost in themselves and their memories, naked and hurt; bodies that bluntly express the state of suffering and waiting. The text full of anxiety with its short, disjoined sentences underlines the despair of the grieving bodies and eyes of the whole family. When the father finally returns, he brings life, colours, music, and joyful noise with him. (7+)
France (French) - 2006 - 114
Lenain, Thierry (text)
Brouillard, Anne (illus.)
(Julie Capable <proper name>)
[Paris] : Grasset-Jeunesse, 2005.  p.
(Collection »Lecteurs en herbe«)
Girl Incapability – Mother – Death – Grief
Julie is clumsy, unhappy, and capable of nothing. Nobody understands her. When her day ends in desperate tears, the girl calls for her mother. But her mother is dead. The cats at the cemetery are the only ones who comfort Julie. They take away her feelings of guilt and enable her to grieve. By putting up pictures of her mum on her bedroom wall and scratching »Mummy« on a gravestone, Julie finally confronts her grief and turns from »Julie Incapable« into »Julie Capable«. The despair and danger are depicted in shades of grey, brown, and red in both small and full-page illustrations which sometimes only show glimpses of a scene. In the end, the cold wintry atmosphere slowly turns into a colourful, comforting spring-scene full of hope, mirroring the girl’s positive development. (5+)
France (French) - 2006 - 115
Luján, Jorge (text)
Norac, Carl (adapt.)
Sadat, Mandana (illus.)
Paris : Didier Jeunesse, 2005.  p.
(Title of the original poem: »Tarde del invierno«) House Window – Child – Mother
First of all, the book presents a town with colourful houses, then one particular house, and finally zooms in on a child standing behind its window. »Today, I’ll draw the moon on the misty glass.« The child’s fingers touch the window’s surface and open a path into the world outside. Readers see the silhouette of a person approaching, and finally the mother arrives. This picture book, which interprets a poem by the Mexican poet Jorge Luján, does not only follow the mother’s way to her child, but also the way from the outside to the inside, from the colourful world to the grey-and-white window frame. In the end, mother and child are reunited behind the window pane, in the midst of all the other houses. (4+)
France (French) - 2006 - 116
Mingau, Muriel (adapt.)
Segovia, Carmen (illus.)
Au creux de la noisette
(In the nutshell)
Toulouse : Éd. Milan, 2005.  p.
Mother Illness – Death – Life
Paul goes to fetch some medicine for his mother, who is seriously ill. On the way, he meets a huge creature with a sickle and immediately realises that this must be Death. He grabs the sickle, locks the shrivelled-up creature in a nutshell, and throws it into the sea. Yet, without death there can be no life either, as Paul soon learns. Thus he sets off in search for the nutshell again. This picture book, which is based on a Scottish folk tale, deals with death and the question of »Why do we have to die?« in a very sensitive way. The dark, warm colours of the illustrations support the careful and gentle treatment of a serious and painful issue. (5+)
France (French) - 2006 - 117
(meaning: Happiness <Proper name>)
[Paris] : Gallimard, 2005. 300 p.
Happiness Rebellion – Murder – Genetic engineering – Cloning – Science fiction
Felicidad is the capital of a country in Greater Europe, where happiness is everyone’s foremost personal right and duty. On the Secretary of State’s orders, Lieutenant Alexis Dekcked is assigned a most urgent case: The »Parumains« (artificial humans), who have been created to serve the »Humains« (human beings), have started a rebellion. Does their disappearance have something to do with the brutal murder of their creator, the geneticist Cholcher? After the second murder, Dekcked tries to shed some light on this mystery together with Majhina, a woman he falls in love with. This teenage novel, which pays homage to the 1982 film Blade Runner, cleverly combines suspension, action, science fiction, and detective novel elements about a topical problem. (14+)
France (French) - 2006 - 118
Au péril de nos vies : la conquête du pôle
(Risking our lives : the conquest of the Pole)
[Paris] : Flammarion, 2005. 145 p.
North Pole Discovery – Adventure – USA/1908
In 1908, the black American Matthew Henson embarks on his third Arctic expedition as assistant to the explorer Robert Peary. Accompanied by Inuit people and dog sleds, they travel through the dangerous, unsafe pack ice until they can finally plant the American flag into the eternal ice of the North Pole. Written like a diary from Henson’s point of view and interspersed with entertaining tales, this historical novel reads like a fictitious – adventure story. The most interesting feature of this book is the fact that it is told by a historical person who, for a long time, was the victim of racism and other people’s ambition and thus did not have a place in historiography. (10+)
France (French) - 2006 - 119
Perret, Delphine (text/illus.)
Moi, le loup et les chocos
(Me, the wolf, and the chocolate cookies)
[Paris] : Magnier, 2005.  p.
Boy Wolf – Depression – Fear – Friendship
At a street corner, a little boy comes across a wolf sitting in front of a house, whining. He complains that nobody buys into the idea of him being a »really big, bad wolf«. Since he has always wanted to have a dog, the boy decides to take the wolf home with him where he does his best to turn the poor wolf, whose real name was Bernard, into a truly frightening creature with the evocative name of Zorro. The comic-book-like series of pictures with minimalist black-and-white illustrations focuses mainly on the two protagonists. The short dialogues, written in a witty, slightly ironic way, turn particularly funny when the »bad« wolf is lectured by the little boy in his childish language. (6+)
France (French) - 2006 - 120
Picouly, Daniel (adapt.)
Tallec, Olivier (ill.)
Poucette de Toulaba
(Thumbelina of Somewhere-over-there)
[Voisins-le-Bretonneux] : Rue du Monde, 2005.  p.
Thumbelina Journey – Love – Freedom
Colourful flowers and leaves, exotic fruits and animals, and in the midst of it all, a little girl sitting in an orange blossom that’s what’s on the large cover of this picture book loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale »Thumbelina«. On her journey, Thumbelina from Toulaba (Somewhere- over-there), an exotic, imaginary country, is faced with several dangerous situations, some of them of an amorous nature. She watches the land that she travels through, and feels that there are a million things she has to learn, especially how to say »no«. Even if the illustrations’ glamorous colours and voluptuous shapes take readers far away from Andersen’s original fairy tale, Thumbelina’s aim of finding the path to freedom still remains the same. (7+)
France (French) - 2006 - 121
Pilon, Pascal (text)
Thomas, Élisabeth (text)
Duffet, Sophie (illus.)
Meihua, Shuilin et Dui vivent en Chine
(Meihua, Shuilin, and Dui live in China)
Paris : De La Martinière Jeunesse, 2005. 47 p.
China Beijing – City – Countryside – Tibet
Each book of the new non-fiction series »Enfants d’ailleurs« (Children from abroad) introduces three children coming from different parts of a particular country. One of the first books features China. After providing the readers with a map, some basic data, and a short historical overview, the authors describe the everyday lives of a girl and two boys. The girl lives in a suburb of Beijing, one of the boys comes from central China, while the other one’s home is in Chinese-occupied Tibet. Taking these three children as examples, the book explains in a very personal and easily understandable manner important cultural and historical events, traditions, and religions such as the one-child-policy, the migration to the cities, or the great number of ethnic minorities. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 2006 - 122
Rodari, Gianni (text)
Alemagna, Beatrice (transl./adapt./illus.)
La promenade d’un distrait
(An absent-minded person’s walk)
[Paris] : Seuil Jeunesse, 2005.  p. + 1 DVD
Boy Walk – Absent-mindedness – Carelessness – Mother – Love
A boy goes for a walk. When his mother warns him not to walk around absent-mindedly, he faithfully promises to be careful this time. Yet, soon his thoughts wander and, step by step, he loses a hand, an arm, a foot, a leg, an ear, his hat, and even an eye. »All children are like that,« say those who return to his mother all the body parts that the absent-minded child lost. The light boy floats through the clouds and the scenery like a string-puppet until he again finds comfort and security in his mother’s arms. The text, written by Gianni Rodari (1920-1980), and the wonderful collages accompanying it, created from drawings, fabric, threads, newspapers, and photographs, praise a carefree childhood and the unconditional, protective motherly love. An animated film, also created by the illustrator and enclosed on DVD, rounds off this poetic high quality work about the carefree attitude of children. (4+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2006 - 123
Schneider, Christine (text)
Pinel, Hervé (illus.)
Toujours dans la lune!
(Always with his head in the clouds!)
Paris : Albin Michel Jeunesse, 2005.  p.
Dream Colour – Teacher
Pierrot tells his mother about his »dream in red and green«: He drives along in a red car and the fire-fighters are green with envy. He flies around in a red plane and the birds are green with envy. He travels to the moon in his red rocket and ... the stars turn green with fear. Up on the moon, he meets his teacher. She, too, is green, very green, but turns red with rage when she shouts at him: »With your head in the clouds as usual, Pierrot. Come back to earth!« This picture book transports readers into the world of a child’s dream, a dream between nightmare and wishful thinking, with a simple but elaborate text and expressive pictures of intense colours. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 2006 - 124
Vantal, Anne (text)
Baas, Thomas (illus.)
Je hais la comtesse
(I hate the countess)
Arles : Actes Sud Junior, 2005. 76 p.
(Les premiers romans) (Cadet )
Mother Children – Order – Intrigue
Madeleine, Camille, and Paul are fed up with the eccentricities of their mother who, on top of being the perfect housewife and mother, is an ardent admirer of the Countess of Ségur. The three children don’t want to wear filly frocks or shiny shoes with bows, they long for T-shirts and trainers. During the holidays, the siblings start their operation »I hate the countess«. With all kinds of pranks and jokes, they strive to make their mother see sense. Eventually, the »conspiracy« is successful and the mother (still perfect, of course) starts to understand her offspring’s behaviour. This comprehensible and humorous book describes how the three children fight for some independence from their overprotective mother. (7+) ☼
France (French) - 2007 - 107
Alemagna, Beatrice (text/illus.)
Un lion à Paris
(A lion in Paris)
Paris : Éd. Autrement, 2006.  p.
Lion – Paris – City – Loneliness – Strangeness
When a lion feels utterly bored in the savannah, he sets off in search for work, love, and a better future. Once he arrives in the city of Paris, he is astonished that his roaring does not seem to frighten the people in the underground or the cafés. Strolling around, he sadly realises that not even an unusual creature like him attracts any attention. Luckily enough, the lion’s perception is changed when a girl at the Louvre Museum looks at him caringly, and finally the city opens »all its windows« to him. Applying a variety of different techniques and materials in imaginative ways, such as photo-collages, the illustrator draws an affectionate and nostalgic portrait of the French capital, reminiscent of the charming atmosphere of old postcards and travel diaries. (5+)
France (French) - 2007 - 108
Parle tout bas, si c’est d’amour
(Speak quietly when it’s about love)
Paris : École des Loisirs, 2006. 151 p.
Youth – Love – Sexuality – Sex education
Shy Olivier finally manages to win the heart of Caroline. Yet, what do 16-year-olds feel when adults start talking non-stop about love and sex education; when the biology teacher shows them how to use a condom; when an 87-year-old woman offers detailed sexual advice; or when a mother takes her daughter to her first true love’s funeral? Caroline and Olivier have to learn from their own experiences. They have to brave the fear that their love may not be strong enough but can draw strength from their hope in mutual trust and faithfulness. This novel sensitively deals with love and relationships and the experiences gained by and exchanged across different generations. (14+)
France (French) - 2007 - 109
Cohen-Scali, Sarah K.
Disparus : roman
Paris : Grasset, 2006. 313 p.
(Grasset-Jeunesse : Roman Grand Format) Theft – Suitcase – Mortal danger – Search
Vincent specialises in stealing luggage from early morning commuter trains. On the very day, however, that he finally decides that this will be his last raid, that he will stop hanging around in train stations and accept a job as waiter in a pizzeria, he nicks the suitcase of a young woman who is obviously in mortal danger. The 20-year-old protagonist immediately feels the need to save this mysterious woman. With the help of his neighbour and an author of detective novels, he follows her trace and accidentally gets involved in the filming of a horror movie. Various misleading tracks and the blurred border between delusion and reality in this mixture between whodunit and fantasy novel keep the readers in growing suspense until the very end. (13+)
France (French) - 2007 - 110
Levèvre, Thierry (text)
Levèvre, Thierry (text)
Le Huche, Magali (illus.)
Arles : Actes Sud Junior, 2006. 105 p.
Paris – City guide – History
This attractive city guide invites children on informative and entertaining walks through the city of Paris, divided into five differently coloured chapters. Starting with an overview of the historical development from the Roman city Lutetia to the present, which explains the city’s geographical snail-shape, the book goes on to answer questions about urban development and takes a closer look at children’s everyday life in Paris, a multicultural metropolis inhabited by people from 150 nations. The last chapter focuses on Paris as a centre for artists and the arts. A quiz, a bibliography, and a map round off this handy introduction to the French capital. (8+)
France (French) - 2007 - 111
Frères de guerre
Paris : Castor Poche Flammarion, 2006. 217 p.
(Castor poche; 1025: Voyage au temps de ...)
World War I – Friendship – Death – Daily routine
In August 1914, Germany declares war on France. Although Eugène and his friend Matthias are only 16, they want to fight at the front. Using forged papers, they manage to get drafted into the French army. Once at the battle scene, they are soon separated, and each boy experiences the horrors in the trenches on his own. The first-person narrator does not only talk about the cruel war events but also about his personal experiences, his patriotic enthusiasm that is soon depleted by the bloody dealings on the front line, his fear of dying, and his grief for the dead comrades. The story is easily accessible for today’s readers. Taking one young man as an example, the book shows the inner struggles that such dramatic experiences can trigger off. (12+) ☆
France (French) - 2007 - 112
(Attathing 1st <Proper name / wordplay>)
[Paris] : Seuil Jeunesse, 2006.  p.
Dictator – Art – Artist – Freedom of opinion
Moronic king Attatruc terrorises his subjects. Despite his complete lack of talent, he dreams of becoming a great artist. He buys the most famous paintings and re-works them, for example, by adding the »missing« second ear to Van Gogh’s self-portrait or by »correctly« placing the nose in Picasso’s painting between the two eyes. After a while, he becomes so irate about his own inability that he burns all the artwork and incarcerates the artists. Eventually, however, art triumphs, and the mad king plunges to his death. In this large-format picture book, the monarch is presented in a stylised way as a grotesque, small, fat, large-headed, ugly gnome draped in martial regalia. The bold black brush strokes aptly express the dictator’s perversity and aggressiveness. (8+)
France (French) - 2007 - 113
Douzou, Olivier (text/illus.)
[Nantes] : Éd. MeMo, 2006.  p.
Nose – Cold – Pronunciation
It all starts with a nose suffering from a cold: »Whem your mose is rumming, you meeb to fimb a bib anky.« Therefore, the little nose hits the road. Several other noses join it, such as a prehistoric nose, a clown’s nose, an elephant’s trunk, and a pig’s snout. The quest for the »big handkerchief « that will bring the blocked noses some relief turns into a confusing and surprising adventure for the weird nosy bunch. Accompanied by caricaturing black-and-red illustrations, the picture book’s play with language and pronunciation provides readers with a humorous challenge. As sometimes the words are not recognisable until they are actually pronounced, the book naturally lends itself to reading aloud (with or without cold). (6+)
France (French) - 2007 - 114
Dumortier, David (text)
Mellinette, Martine (illus.)
Mehdi met du rouge à lèvres
(Mehdi paints her lips red)
Chambon-sur-Lignon : Cheyne, 2006. 43 p.
(Poèmes pour grandir)
Sexual identity – Otherness – Tolerance – Search for identity – Self-confidence
Mehdi dresses like a girl, paints his lips red, and instead of being crazy about football, he adores a singer whose songs make people cry. Again and again, the boy is forced to justify his behaviour and fight against intolerance and conformism around him, for example when his neighbour slates his dream job of selling candy as »unfit for a boy!« Eventually, Mehdi gets sick of »hiding his ideas in a tube, a bottle, or a jewel box and revealing only tiny bits of them«. The imaginative illustrations and the unconventional layout of the book underline the author’s plea to all people to be brave enough to express their otherness, which makes life a lot richer. (9+)
France (French) - 2007 - 115
Fombelle, Timothée de (text)
Place, François (illus.)
La vie suspendue
(The suspended life)
[Paris] : Gallimard Jeunesse, 2006. 311 p.
(Tobie Lolness; 1)
Oak tree – People – Nature – Threat – Adventure
»Tobie was only one-and-a-half millimetres in size, not exactly tall for his age.« The 13-year-old protagonist’s people live in a huge oak tree and keep beetles as food. The more influential the families are, the higher up in the tree they live, with the lower social classes dwelling in the branches close to the ground. Ever since Tobie’s father has refused to hand over one of his inventions for fear that it might threaten their lives in the tree once it gets into the wrong hands, Tobie is being pursued. When his parents are arrested and the boy believes them to be dead, he climbs down into the lower branches and escapes. This novel about the tree-creatures’ fantastic world and the young boy’s adventures is written in a humorous and gripping style with unusual depth. (12+)
France (French) - 2007 - 116
Gendrin, Catherine (text)
Corvaisier, Laurent (illus.)
Voici comment sont nées les histoires
(That’s how stories are born)
[Voisins-le-Bretonneux] : Rue du Monde, 2006.  p.
Genesis – God –Love – Death
God wants to create life. He carries out experiments with clay and fills the earth with what he deems beautiful. He places the very dark human couple on the African continent while the couple who has not been in the oven long enough is set down in Europe. When there is no space left on earth, he creates »concepts« such as »love«, which suddenly leads to the birth of too many creatures; followed by »death« as a counterbalance; and »stories« to help children fall asleep. In colourful pictures, this large-format book offers readers a fairytale-like, profound, and tongue-in-cheek version of the creation of the world and of the constant metamorphosis of immortal stories that are passed on from one generation to the next. (6+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2007 - 117
Je mourrai pas gibier
(I won’t let myself be killed like game)
Rodez : Éd. du Rouergue, 2006. 75 p.
Teenager – Murderer – Wedding – Village – Enmity – Running amok – Violence
Five people are killed, two fatally wounded, and one slightly injured when teenager Martial fires 18 shots at his brother’s wedding guests. This is the beginning of the young first-person narrator’s story, which is told in retrospect after the blood-bath. Martial’s home village Mortagne is divided into two opposing camps and ruled by social coldness and stupidity expressed through violence and cruelty. Martial tries to escape from this place, but it is difficult to leave the legacy of his birthplace behind. Unable to express his anger with words, he too resorts to violence. The precise, relentless, and down-to-earth style of this novel immediately sucks the readers into the oppressing atmosphere. The novel is easy to read, easy to understand, but difficult to digest. It is not so much the bloodshed that the story focuses on but rather the motives behind it. The way in which these motives are analysed and presented, show the author’s great narrative skill. (14+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2007 - 118
Guilloppé, Antoine (text/illus.)
Akiko la rêveuse : petit conte zen
(Akiko the dreamer : a short Zen tale)
Arles : Picquier Jeunesse, 2006.  p.
Girl – Dream – Grandmother – Youth – Old age – Death
One night, Akiko dreams that she meets her grandmother at the lakefront. The following day, the curious girl sets off towards the lake to »meet« her dream again. Eventually, she finds her grandmother and speaks to her for the last time. This Zen tale about a dreamy little girl deals with important topics such as the circle of life, absence and loss, and life and death. The clear black ink drawings are complemented by the greens and blues of nature. By using Japanese paper as material for the butterflies and the characters’ clothes, the illustrator easily captures the Japanese atmosphere. Although both text and pictures have a touch of lightness, they stand out for their impressive profundity that inspires readers to stop and think about it. (7+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2007 - 119
(The thirteenth future)
Paris : Éd. Sarbacane, 2006. 103 p.
(Romans Sarbacane : Exprim’)
Teenager – Suburb – Parents – Identity – First love
What the first-person narrator of this novel desperately needs is a change. He really wants to escape his life in the suburbs, his parents’ conservative, racist conversations, his neighbours’ smallmindedness, and his friends’ paralysing boredom. Yet, where and how can he find a new home and a worthwhile future? In the end, all his reflections lead to Justine, his first love, with whom he has his first romantic and sexual experiences. This novel about a teenager’s search for identity resembles a long poem without punctuation marks. Its quick and easily understandable language lures readers into reading it through in one sitting. The relentless, colloquial, quasi-spoken text follows in the tradition of slam poetry. (14+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2007 - 120
Lestrade, Agnès de (text)
Boillat, Joanna (iilus.)
La marchande de vent
(The wind merchant)
Urville-Nacqueville : Møtus, 2006.  p.
Wind – Sea – Wish
Young Alizée is a saleswoman at the kite beach. She sells wind in bags or cans. Each of her customers has a special request: Fisherman Oreste needs north wind for his work; Jean, the poet, prefers slow, warm south wind for his words of love to travel from one village to the next; Gertrude wishes for east wind that shakes the apples from the tree; and a little boy longs for the quick west wind that helps him win the kite competition. And what does Alizée dream about? A surprise the wind carries for her promising love and happiness. The fluttering hair and clothes of the protagonists and the lightness of the illustrations’ pastel colours underline the effect of the poetical text. (5+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2007 - 121
Le-Puy-en Velay : Atelier du Poisson Soluble, 2006.  p.
Fox – Shadow – Malice – Chasing
A fox goes for a walk, when suddenly his own shadow comes alive and trips him up. And that’s only the start. The shadow plays tricks on him and tries his best to drive the poor fox mad. Once, he taps him on his back and boxes his ears, another time, he chases him until the panic-stricken victim crashes headfirst into a wall. The mischievous shadow even takes the shape of a beautiful vixen and tries to seduce the fox only to vanish into thin air the next minute. Yet, he who laughs last, laughs longest. The arrangement of the pictures as well as the sketchy presentation of the fox in this humorous, textless tale are inspired by comic-strips and flip books. (4+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2007 - 122
Saint-Dizier, Marie (text)
Ishii, Atsuko (illus.)
Le rire : raconté aux petits curieux
(Laughter: explained to inquisitive little ones)
[Paris] : Syros, 2006.  p.
(Les Albums documentaires)
Laughter – Humour
Why do people laugh? Do we laugh in the same way today that people did a thousand years ago? What do the French, the Spanish, or the English laugh about? Using an abundance of examples as well as scientific and literary evidence, such as Charles Darwin’s description of his son’s development of laughter or Molière’s theatre plays that parody people’s behaviour and thus make the audience laugh, this non-fiction picture book provides a philosophical reflection on this everyday phenomenon. The book also tackles various types of laughter, for example the laughter with or at somebody, plus culturally and environmentally specific traits of laughter. The informative text is accompanied by delicately drawn illustrations. (9+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2007 - 123
[Paris] : Magnier, 2006.  p.
Elephant calf – Threat – Fear – Rescue – Parents
A little elephant is wandering through the woods alone, when suddenly a pack of wolves emerges among the trees. Luckily enough, his parents immediately come to his rescue. In this simple story with few protagonists and a reduced setting, the text is completely replaced by the play with colours and perspectives, which unfolds in the pictures. Thus, the red colour of the wolves roaming through the blue-green forest creates a threatening atmosphere while the gleaming white elephants’ tusks seem like the proper instruments of punishment. Sara uses torn-paper-technique to create her characteristic illustrations. The coarse-grained Chinese wrapping paper chosen for the elephants in this book perfectly mirrors the pachyderms’ equanimity and calm. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 2007 - 124
La marmite du diable
(The devil’s cauldron)
Paris : Bayard Jeunesse, 2006. 179 p.
Son – Father – Speleology – Death – First love
It’s not enough that Nicolas’s father has just died of cancer; to make matters worse, there are now some calumnious rumours about an extraordinary prehistoric cave, the whereabouts of which his father refused to share until his death. Some even say that he created the cave paintings there himself. Driven by the urge to rehabilitate his father, the boy sets off in search of the cave. On the one hand, this gripping novel serves as an introduction to the secrets of speleology; on the other hand, it offers a stunning psychological portrait of a teenager whose research about his father helps him find his own identity and his first love. (13+)