Sunday, June 15, 2008

Everybody Bonjours by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy

Everybody Bonjours! by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 8, 2008)
Amazon Price: $12.74
ISBN-10: 0375844430
ISBN-13: 978-0375844430
Source: Review copy from publisher

Remember that old Frank Sinatra song, "April in Paris" ?

"I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace

Till april in paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in paris, this is a feeling
That no one can ever reprise"

I've never experienced a Paris April, or May, or August...In fact, the extent of my world traveling ends with a five-month teaching stint in Brazil 9 years ago and a honeymoon in Mexico 5 years ago. I want to travel the world, but with a small child, looks like I'm going to have to travel the world through books. I can also show my daughter the world through the multitude of picture books out there that showcase other countries. Leslie Kimmelman's newest book,
Everybody Bonjours!, is one of them.

The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, crepe stands, and the Seine are among many of the sites a little American girl in a red visits with her family in Paris. Using simple text, we follow the girl through Paris, who proclaims throughout, "Everybody Bonjours!"

"From shores.
In stores.
On guided tours.
Everybody bonjours!

Bonjours high.
Bonjours low.
Bonjours fast.
Bonjours slow.
Everybody bonjours!"

The text relies heavily on Sarah McMenemy's colorful and detailed mixed-media illustrations to show readers where they are visiting. For example, on the page that says, "Bonjours high," is a illustration of the Eiffel Tower, with ant-like figures of tourists at the bottom and a red hot air balloon near the top. On the page that says, "Bonjours fast," is an illustration of cars speeding around the Arc de Triomphe monument on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

At the back of a book is a two-page spread with short paragraphs that give a brief description of each of the sixteen places the girl visits in the book. And even the end papers themselves are decorated with a map of Paris, featuring sketches of each place in the book.

While it's not the same as visiting Paris, this book is a great way to introduce the city to children and get them excited about visiting other places in the world.

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