March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: The Mighty Lalouche

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legs in red striped tightsOLSHAN, Matthew. The Mighty Lalouche. illus. by Sophie Blackall. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. glossary. May 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86225-0; PLB $20.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96225-7; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-375-98742-7. LC 2010031825.
K-Gr 3
–Lalouche is a Parisian postman living more than 100 years ago. Though diminutive, he is blessed with strong arms, nimble fingers, and fast legs. When he is sacked, thanks to the invention of an electric automobile, he must find a way to support himself and his beloved pet finch, Geneviève. Desperate, Lalouche joins the Bastille Boxing Club. Because he is so small, he is repeatedly underestimated as he continues to win matches against much bigger opponents, including gigantic Anaconda. It is when he fights “for country, mail, and Geneviève” that readers learn, “one should never underestimate a man who loves his finch.” The story, along with the language, is entertaining; names like Diamond Jacques and the Grecque, and words like “tomfoolery,” will keep readers and listeners amused. Some French is sprinkled throughout, e.g., “C’est impossible,” and a glossary helps with translation. The illustrations are outstanding–Blackall has outdone herself. The ink-and-watercolor artwork was cut out, arranged in layers, and photographed, resulting in an eye-catching, textured, three-dimensional effect that children will love poring over. The text and pictures work expertly together, moving the story forward in clever and funny ways; Lalouche’s facial expressions alone should elicit giggles from readers. An author’s note about the history of French boxing and the invention of the electric car further enhance this captivating tale with a wonderful moral: small people are capable of great feats.–Laura Lutz, Pratt Institute, New York City