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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: France, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 158
1. ‘Sumo’ by Laurene Braibant

Two bodies, giants almost naked, advance slowly to a circle of clay. This graphic experience features the expressiveness of their bodies which are to repeat a sumo ritual. The two wrestlers are fighting in a lightning way through each of their deeds, which are the direct expression of their most exposed being.

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2. Artist of the Day: Alix Fizet

Alix Fizet studies animation at La Poudrière in Valence, France. Here is a thirty-second color pencil animated short with creative sound design and effects matched with humorous rapid-fire imagery.

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3. Book Review: Odette's Secrets, by Maryann Macdonald (Bloomsbury, 2013)

Recommended for ages 9-14.

World War II seems to supply authors, whether those for children or adults, with an inexhaustible supply of true stories for inspiration.  Author Maryann Macdonald turns to historical fiction in her new novel, Odette's Secrets, about a young Jewish girl in Paris during the Nazi Occupation.  Odette's story is told in spare free verse; we meet her Polish-Jewish parents who have immigrated to Paris with their only daughter Odette.  Odette is beloved by her gentile godmother, the concierge at her building, and has a comfortable existence until her father joins the French military, is taken prisoner by the Germans, and conditions began to worsen considerably for the Jewish population of Paris.  Soon the round-ups of foreign-born Jews begin, destined to be shipped off to the East.  Odette's mother, realizing the danger, makes a plan for her daughter and the daughters of other friends to go stay with family friends in the Vendee, outside of Nazi-occupied France, where she will be in safely in the countryside with plenty to eat.

There's one wrinkle--Odette must forget that she's a Jew.  She must blend in perfectly with the village children, learn how to cross herself, say Catholic prayers, attend mass, eat pork, in other words, do nothing that could distinguish her from other children in the village.  She becomes very good at keeping secrets--even from her closest friends.  But when her mother flees Paris to join her, suspicion follows them just the same.  Can they stay safe?  And what will happen after the war ends?  Will her father and other relatives find them back in Paris?

This is a moving, small novel that can be read quickly but delves into real issues of prejudice, bravery, and how ordinary children can survive in dangerous and extraordinary times  This novel is inspired by the life of the real Odette Myers, a story the author discovered while doing research in a Paris library; she was helped in this project by Odette's son, Daniel, who shared family photos and experiences.  Highly recommended.  

0 Comments on Book Review: Odette's Secrets, by Maryann Macdonald (Bloomsbury, 2013) as of 3/26/2014 9:49:00 AM
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4. Illustrator Interview – Christine Davenier

Christine Davenier is an illustrator whom I have admired from afar for a while and only recently plucked up the courage to invite to our Illustrator Wednesdays. I was first wowed by her illustrations in the book, SAMANTHA ON A … Continue reading

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5. The Good Little Devil and Other Tales by Pierre Gripari plus 7 ways to turn your (child’s) words and pictures into a book

Do you think there is an age at which you’ll stop reading aloud to your children?

Have you already reached that stage?

Why might you keep reading to an older child who can already read themselves?

These are some of the questions I’ve been contemplating as part of a discussion, initiated by Clara Vulliamy, about reading to big kids. I’ve also been thinking about books which I think work especially well as read-alouds to big kids, kids who can read perfectly well themselves.

the-good-little-devil The absurd, magical, funny collection of tales which make up The Good Little Devil and Other Tales by Pierre Gripari, with illustrations by Puig Rosado, translated by Sophie Lewis are curious and intriguing, and make for especially interesting read-alouds to “big” kids.

Adults in these fairy tales are often foolish and fooled, children save the day, taking everything in their stride, there is great humour, wit and cheekiness, as well as the occasional tinge of gruesomeness. Plot twists and turns which might leave my grown-up sensibilities unsatisfied perfectly resemble stories children will tell themselves, with little psychology, minimal internal reason, but plenty of pace. Talking potatoes, giants and shoes in love, witches hiding in cupboards – this book is full of off-beat, silly and enjoyable stories.

But one of the reasons why I think this book works particularly well as a read-aloud, as a shared experience with an adult, is that the book – translated from the French – is full of richness and new horizons that are easier to explore with someone else along for the ride. The book is set in Paris, and has a distinctly Gallic flavour (from the illustration featuring a naked female chest, to a helter skelter ride through French history, via a strong, albeit often tongue-in-cheek Roman Catholic presence), and whilst the wackiness of the tales will be enjoyed by older children reading alone, I think lots that could be missed on a solo reading might be fruitfully explored and doubly enjoyed with a grown-up around.

Each story in this collection has one or two drawings by the Spanish illustrator Puig Rosado

Each story in this collection has one or two drawings by the Spanish illustrator Puig Rosado

Perhaps this all sounds a bit worthy and educational, and that’s not at all what I’m aiming at. Rather, I’m thinking about to what extent books are enjoyed with or without (some) background knowledge. The language and style of writing in this book is perfect for say 9 year olds to read themselves, (and it clearly is enjoyed by lots of children, having been translated into 17 languages, with more than 1.5 million copies sold around the world) but my experience of it was that it was a book which became considerably enriched by sharing it.

Library Mice says: “The Good Little Devil and Other Tales is the one book I’d recommend to any child of any age, from any country.
Julia Eccleshare says: “Delightful trickery abounds in this collection of magical tales all of which are spiced with a sophisticated sense of humour and sharp wit.
The Independent says: “[For] Readers of all ages who appreciate a good story and a kooky sense of humour“.

A view down rue Broca. No. 69 is on the left, just after Les Delices des Broca. Image taken from Google street view.

A view down rue Broca. No. 69 is on the left, just after Les Delices de Broca. Image taken from Google street view.

One aspect that my kids and I particularly enjoyed about The Good Little Devil and Other Tales was the discovery Gripari wrote these stories with children: Gripari created them along with kids who would sit with him outside his favourite cafe in Rue Broca, Paris in the 1960s. As Gripari writes in his afterword:

The stories in the collection were. thus, not written by Monsieur Pierre alone. They were improvised by him in collaboration with his listeners – and whoever has not worked in this way may struggle to imagine all that the children could contribute, from solid ideas to poetic discoveries and even dramatic situations, often surprisingly bold ones.

My kids were so excited by the idea that kids just liked them had helped a “real author” write a “real book”. It was an inspirational moment for them, and with a glint in their eyes they were soon asking how they could turn their stories into books.

And so it was I started to investigate ways to turn M and J’s own words and pictures, stories and illustrations into books of their own. I soon realised that I was not only finding ways to support my kids desire to write, I was also discovering ways to store all those creations of theirs I can’t bear to part with, as well as objects that could be turned into unique Christmas or birthday presents for family members.

Here are 7 ways to turn your child’s words and pictures into a book. Some of these approaches could also be used by classes or creative writing/art groups, to create publications that could be used for fundraising projects.

1. The slip-in book

displaybookStationers and chemists sell a variety of display books that can be adapted for self publication. Choose the size you want and simply slip in your pictures and text! Photo albums often offer greater variety of binding, and come in many more sizes, so these are useful if you want to include documents which aren’t a standard size. Display books typically have either 20 or 40 pockets, giving you 40 or 80 pages in total. Depending on whether there is a separate pocket for a title page, you can use stickers to give your book a title.

Advantages: Very easy to produce, and cheap. Minimal printing required, and no typesetting needed! Older children can make these books themselves as all it requires is for them to slip the original into the binding.
Disadvantages: Only one copy of each book can be made this way (unless you photocopy the originals).
Cost: £ (Display books in my local stationers started at £2.50, and photo albums at £5 for larger ones)
Ideal for: Storage solutions, one-off books.

2. Comb bound

Comb_bind_examplesMany local stationers offer a cheap and quick option using comb binding. For this option you’ll need to prepare your images and texts so that they can be printed (normally at A4/letter size, not at smaller or nonstandard sizes), and this may involved scanning images and a certain amount of typesetting. Once you’ve prepared your document, binding can be very quick (a matter of minutes), and because you’ve prepared an electronic copy you can bind as many copies as you’d like. It’s possible to buy coil binders (£100-£300) and this might be an effective option for schools.

Advantages: Cheap and quick, good for multiple copies.
Disadvantages: Can look a bit “cheap” (I think slip in books look more appealing; they can look like real hard back books), can be a little flimsy.
Cost: £ (comb binding at my local stationers – Rymans, for UK folk – started at £3.49 for 25 sheets, going up to £7.49 for 450 sheets). Don’t forget you’ll have to include printing costs too.
Ideal for: short runs of books at a low price

3. Glue bound

Image Source:  University of Birmingham Bindery

Image Source: University of Birmingham Bindery

Is there a university near you? If so, they will often have a binding service, aimed at students with dissertations, but open to the public too. If you’re looking for something which looks a little more like a paperback than a comb bound book, a glue bound book might be for you. Again, you’ll need to prepare your text and images so they can be printed, but once you’ve done that, you can print and bind as many copies as you like.

Glue binding (sometimes known as Thermo binding) is quick (often a while-you-wait) service, and you can often get your pages printed and bound at A5 size rather than A4 (making the finished product look more like a “real” book).

Advantages: Finished book can look quite a lot like a “real” book, which is very satisfying!
Disadvantages: Glue binding is considered “temporary” and so isn’t ideal for books which are going to be read very many times. Glue binding won’t work if you’ve very few pages in your book; most binders I’ve spoken to recommend an absolute minimum of 24 sides (12 pages).
Cost: ££ (glue binding at my local university was £7.50 per book). Don’t forget you’ll have to include printing costs too.
Ideal for: When you want a cheapish option which looks like a real book. University binderies are also often able to give some advice on typesetting and layout, so if you’re not confident about your skills in those areas.

4. Self published via Amazon’s CreateSpace

createsapceCreateSpace is a fairly easy tool to use to create paperback books. It has an extremely clear step by step process you can follow. There’s quite a variety of formats, both in terms of size, black and white printing or full colour, or cream paper instead of white (the former being better if you want to be dyslexia friendly, though this option is only available for black and white printing). To make your life much easier, you can download templates with much of the formatting done for you (for example margins set up correctly) – I’d definitely recommend doing this, though it isn’t a requirement. Once you’ve downloaded the template you’ll fill it in with your child’s writing and images, just like you would in a word processing document.

Both my kids have used the template and typed straight into it (rather than writing by hand and then me typing up their words). Adding images works just like it does in a word document, the only thing I’ve found you need to be careful of is making sure your images are of a high enough resolution. When you/your child has finished their document (perhaps with multiple stories and images) you need to upload your work as a print-ready .pdf, .doc, .docx, or .rt. CreateSpace then checks everything is ok before you go on to design your book cover.

You can order M's first book by clicking on this photo!

You can order M’s first book by clicking on this photo!

Advantages: The CreateSpace step-by-step guide is thorough and pretty easy to use. The resulting books have definitely had the “wow” factor with my kids.
Disadvantages: For a whole variety of ethical reasons you might not want to deal with Amazon. Everything is done online so you may want to think about personal details. M has used a pen name, so her real name doesn’t appear online, and if you were publishing work by children in a school you might want to consider only using children’s first names, especially if the name of the school also appears on the book you create (this is less of a concern if you don’t make the book available for the public to buy).
Cost: ££ The cost to create the book is nil. The final purchase price depends partly on page number and the use of colour (the more pages, and the use of colour make books more expensive), and whether you want to sell book at cost or to make a profit. M’s book (64 pages, 6″x9″, full colour) has a public cost price of £6.24 (although price is actually set in $). although as the author M can order copies at about half that price (though there are then postage costs to pay).
Ideal for: Producing books which really look like paperback books. Great if you want family and friends to be able to buy their own copy. You can also choose to publish your book in Kindle format.


5. Self published via Lulu

lulu-logoI’ve yet to use Lulu, but Juliet Clare Bell has a really useful post on using Lulu in school over on Picture Book Den. Having taken a quick look at Lulu it looks quite similar to CreateSpace, although you can do hard covers, and A5 and A4 sized books (CreateSpace mostly does standard US Trade sizes, and doesn’t offer hardbacks.)

6. Using the Scholastic We Are Writers scheme

we-are-writersThe Scholastic We Are Writers scheme is specifically designed with schools in mind. It costs nothing for the school to set up and publish, thought each final book costs £5.99 (though you can sell it for more if you wish to make a profit) subject to a minimum order quantity of 50 books. A nice feature is that the books come with an introduction written by a leading children’s author (although this isn’t personalised to your school)

Advantages: You can run We Are Writers as part of your Scholastic Book Fair to earn Scholastic Rewards for your school.
Disadvantages: Not ideal if you just want a few copies of the book you create. Although the cover is full colour, the interior of the book is black and white only, so not ideal if you wish to include artwork. Books must contain a minimum of 50 pages.
Cost: ££
Ideal for: Schools wanting to create books which are text based.

7. Book Creator for iPad

bookcreator200pxThe Book Creator App makes ‘fixed layout’ e-books and is apparently very easy for kids to use to create books with lots of images. I’ve not used it, but here’s a series of case studies where it has been used in the classroom, and it would seem families at home could also easily use this app (free for your 1st book, then up to $4.99 for unlimited use).

My thanks to @candyliongirl and @sue_cowley for helpful suggestions when exploring options for creating books.

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of The Good Little Devil from the publishers.

3 Comments on The Good Little Devil and Other Tales by Pierre Gripari plus 7 ways to turn your (child’s) words and pictures into a book, last added: 3/24/2014
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6. The Normans and empire

By David Bates

The expansion of the peoples calling themselves the Normans throughout northern and southern Europe and the Middle East has long been one of the most popular and written about topics in medieval history. Hence, although devoted mainly to the history of the cross-Channel empire created by William the Conqueror’s conquest of the English kingdom in 1066 and the so-called loss of Normandy in 1204, I wanted to contribute to these discussions and to the ongoing debates about the impact of this expansion on the histories of the nations and cultures of Europe. That peoples from a region of northern France should become conquerors is one of the apparently inexplicable paradoxes of the subject. The other one is how the conquering Normans apparently faded away, absorbed into the societies they had conquered or within the kingdom of France.

In 1916 Charles Homer Haskins’ made the statement that the Normans represented one of the great civilising influences in European – and indeed world – history. If, a century later, hardly anyone would see it thus, the same imperatives remain, namely to locate the Normans within a context in which it remains popular to write national histories, and, for some, in the midst of debates about the balance of the History curriculum, to see them as being of paramount importance. The history of the Normans cuts across all this, but is an inescapable subject in relation to the histories of the English, French, Irish, Italian, Scottish, and Welsh. Those currently fashionable concepts – and rightly so – ‘The First English Empire’ and ‘European change’ are also at the centre of the debates.

As a concept, empire is nowadays both fashionable and much argued about, a universal phenomenon of human history that has been the subject of several major television programmes. It is a subject that requires a multidisciplinary approach. Over the last two millennia, statements by both contemporaries and subsequent commentators have often set a proclaimed imperial civilising mission as a positive feature against the impact of violence and the social and cultural subjugation of the subjects of an empire. Seen thus, the concept of empire has an obvious relevance to the subject of the Normans. And, in relation to the pan-European expansion of the Normans, and, in particular, to the creation of the kingdom of Sicily, the term diaspora, as it is understood in the social sciences, constitutes a persuasive framework of analysis. Taken together, the two terms empire and diaspora create a world in which individuals and communities had to adapt rapidly to new forms of power and cultures and in which identities are multiple, flexible, and often uncertain. For this reason, the telling of life-histories is of central importance rather than simplified notions of social and cultural identity. One consequence must be the abandonment of the currently popular and unhelpful word Normanitas. The core of this book is a history of power, diversity and multiculturalism in the midst of the complexities of a changing Europe.

The use of terms such as hard power, soft power, hegemony, core and periphery, and cultural transfer can be used to frame interpretations of many national histories, including Welsh, Scottish, and Irish, as well as English. The crucial points in all cases are the mixture of engagement with the dominant imperial power and the perpetuation of difference and diversity through the exercise of agency beyond the core. The framework is one that works especially well in relation to the evolving histories of the Welsh kingdoms/principalities and of the kingdom of Scots. It also means that the so-called ‘anarchy’ of 1135 to 1154, the succession dispute between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda becomes a civil war which needs to be set in a cross-Channel context and through which there were many continuities. And Magna Carta (1215), of which the eight-hundredth anniversary is fast approaching, becomes a consequence of imperial collapse. However, a focus on England and the British Isles just does not work. Normandy’s centrality to the history of the cross-Channel empire created in 1066 is of basic importance. Both morally and militarily the creation of the cross-Channel empire brought problems of a new kind that were for some living, or mainly domiciled, in Normandy a source of anguish. The book’s cover has indeed been chosen with this in mind. It shows troubled individuals who have narrowly escaped disaster at sea, courtesy of St Nicholas. But they successfully made the crossing. And so, of course, did the Tournai marble on which they are carved.

Professor David Bates took his PhD at the University of Exeter, and over a professional career of more than forty years, he has held posts in the Universities of Cardiff, Glasgow, London (where he was Director of the Institute of Historical Research from 2003 to 2008), East Anglia, and Caen Basse-Normandie. He has worked extensively in the archives and libraries of Normandy and northern France and has always sought to emphasise the European dimension to the history of the Normans. ‘He currently holds a Leverhulme Trust Emeritus Fellowship to enable him to complete a new biography of William the Conqueror in the Yale University Press English Monarchs series. His latest book is The Normans and Empire.

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Image credit: Section of the Bayeaux Tapestry, courtesy of the Conservateur of the Bayeux Tapestry. Do not reproduce without permission.

The post The Normans and empire appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Chevalvert

Chevalvert via grainedit.com

Chevalvert is a visual design studio co-founded by Patrick Paleta and Stéphane Buellet in 2007. Based on an open and multidisciplinary approach to design, the studio conceives work that is smart and succinct.


Chevalvert via grainedit.com

Chevalvert via grainedit.com

Chevalvert via grainedit.com


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Ross Gunter
Lufthansa + Graphic Design

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Thanks to Signazon for being this week's sponsor.

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8. Weekend Groove: Music Videos from Australia, Germany, Belgium and France

We’re going to start featuring the most interesting, creative and original animated music videos every weekend in a new section we call the Weekend Groove. Submit you vidoes HERE.

“Gangsta Riddim” directed by about:blank (Belgium)

Audio excerpt of “Gangsta Riddim” remix by Roel Funcken. Gangsta Riddim (Original) by SCANONE.

“Over You” directed by Drushba Pankow (Germany)

“Over You” is a music video clip originally made for the song “Nobody’s Fool” by Parov Stelar. The Berlin-based musician Michal Krajczok wrote and produced his song “Over You” especially for this video, featuring the voice of Larissa Blau. The video is directed, designed and animated by Drushba Pankow (Alexandra Kardinar and Volker Schlecht), with additional animation by Maxim Vassiliev.

“A Very Unusual Map” directed by Loup Blaster (France)

A music video for Hibou Blaster

“Teapot” directed by Clem Stamation (Australia)

Cantaloupe are a synth-guitar/bass-drums trio from Nottingham, UK, formed in January 2011. Drawing influences from Afro-pop to Krautrock to the avant garde, who aim to make infectuous and thoroughly pleasing instrumental pop music.

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9. LOST FILMS: “Calaveras” by Jacques Colombat

What constitutes a “lost” film? The traditional definition is a film whose existence is confirmed but of which no prints can be found. But in this day and age of infinite abundance on the Internet, there is also another type of lost film. This is the film of which prints readily exist, but the film is rarely screened publicly, unavailable online, and is not part of the general animation community’s discussion.

An even more personal definition of a “lost” film is simply a film that I wish to see and am unable to find. I plan to regularly highlight these films in this new feature called “Lost Films.” It represents a desire to draw attention to the rich history of animated filmmaking and the various ways that artists have explored the medium throughout the years.

The first “lost film” is Calaveras (Skulls, 1969), a French short directed by Jacques Colombat (b. 1940) and produced by Les films Armorial. Colombat, who was a protégé of the important French animation director Paul Grimault, was inspired by the artwork of Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada to create his Day of the Dead-themed short. Using a combination of cel animation and cut-out, Colombat animated the film with Jean Vimenet and Jean-François Laguionie, the latter of whom recently released the feature Le Tableau.

Colombat appears to still be alive and well. In fact, a photo of him riding a bicycle around Paris randomly ended up on the Associated Press last October.

The film’s running times that I’ve seen vary between 11 and 15 minutes. Here is the most complete synopsis of Calaveras that can be found online:

An unusual and aesthetically interesting cartoon, set in Mexico at the time of the defeat of Maximilian I by the Republican forces under Juárez. It tells the story of an imprisoned Algerian soldier who, having been left behind when Maximilian’s French troops were forced to withdraw, faces a firing squad. While he is in jail he dreams of life outside, but eventually his time comes. According to popular Mexican belief however, men continue their previous lives in the state of skeletons and there is every indication that the soldier will soon find his place in this new world.

The adventurous design and color of Calaveras excites the senses. I can’t imagine how these drawings are animated as cut-outs—or if they’re even animated—but I’d love to find out.

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10. “Fat” Floats Onto the Internet

All the fat in Fat is contained in its title; the film itself is a lean and mean laugh machine that offers a goofy series of gags hinged on a surreal visual concept. The 2011 Supinfocom Arles graduation short was directed by Gary Fouchy, Yohann Auroux Bernard, and Sebastien De Oliveira Bispo. The film’s website includes some funny concept work and animated GIFs.

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11. The Franco-German connection and the future of Europe

By Ulrich Krotz and Joachim Schild

Ten years ago, at the Elysée Treaty’s 40th anniversary, Alain Juppé characterized France and Germany as the “privileged guardians of the European cohesion.” As the European Union’s key countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of their bilateral Treaty, Europe traverses a whole set of crises making the Franco-German “entente élémentaire” (Willy Brandt) appear as ever more important for providing or preserving European crisis management, decision-making, and, in whatever exact form: cohesion.

The endurance and the adaptability of the bilateral Franco-German connection—in spite of frequently dramatic domestic political changes (say changes of governments, parties in power, key personnel, economic rises, social upheavals, among others), regional European transformations (including widening and deepening European integration, the fall of the Iron Curtain, German unification), and wider international rupture or dynamism (such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, or burgeoning globalization)—is a remarkable feature of European politics of the past half-century. Different combinations of a variety of factors have nurtured both resilience and adaptability of this bilateral link over time, political domains, and specific issues:

  • complementary (more often than identical) strategic and economic interests;
  • an extraordinarily tight fabric of bilateral institutions and norms to lubricate intergovernmental cooperation;
  • parapublic and transnational interconnections between the two countries civil societies to undergird public intergovernmental links;
  • the basic strategic choice on both sides generally to handle bilateral differences with delicacy, circumspection, and patience to arrive at compromises in bilateral and European matters whenever possible;
  • and, finally, what Stanley Hoffmann once called an “equilibrium of disequilibria”: an overall by and large balanced bilateral relationship that enabled France and Germany to exercise joint European leadership on a footing of relative equality.

In 1963, the Elysée Treaty crowned the period of Franco-German friendship following World War II. At the same time, the Treaty offered a frame for an emergent and lasting “special” bilateral relationship between France and Germany, and inserted the Franco-German connection at the very core of the evolving institutions and decision-making processes of the European Union and its various predecessors.

The signing of the treaty on 22nd January 1963. In the picture (sat at the table, left to right): Dr. Gerhard Schröder (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, President Charles de Gaulle, Prime Minister Georges Pompidou, and Maurice Couve de Murville (French Foreign Minister). Source: This image was provided to Wikimedia Commons by the German Federal Archive (Deutsches Bundesarchiv) as part of a cooperation project.

And very much in the spirit of its godfathers and signatories Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, the Elysée Treaty helped to base this novel sort of Franco-German relationship not only on an unusual set of bilateral intergovernmental institutionalization, but also on linkages and interchange among the French and Germans beyond and below the intergovernmental level. Most notably, the past 50 years have seen the emergence and flourishing of a massive set of publicly funded or organizationally supported “parapublic” institutions and institutionalization, such as the Franco-German Youth Office (with some 8 million participants in exchange programs since its foundation); some 2200 “twinnings” (jumelages, Partnerschaften) between French and German towns or regional entities; connections between high schools and universities; and, later, the creation of the Franco-German TV channel ARTE, and the framework of the Franco-German University.

To be sure, the Franco-German connection of the past five decades has experienced numerous disagreements, crises, or even phases of protracted tensions. In retrospect, the Gaullist period, with fundamental and seemingly insurmountable divergence in French and German strategic orientations, might appear as the most trying. And yet, neither this phase, nor various enduring differences in political or economic inclinations, nor a motley crew of disagreements, have either broken the bilateral connection or led it to degenerate into marginal relevance.

At the celebrations of the Elysée Treaty’s 50th anniversary, and the beginning of what France and Germany have baptized “the Franco-German year,” two developments threaten the continued endurance and political relevance of this bilateral relationship in Europe: on the one hand, the seemingly deep disparities across major policy fields during this period of severe crises; on the other, an apparently increasing gap in economic performance and competitiveness.

As for the former, most visibly perhaps, France and Germany have so far not succeeded in developing bilateral compromises so as to decisively help manage or overcome the Eurozone crisis. Or, for that matter, even to define a coherent approach in dealing with this crisis and its possible implications for the future of European governance in the monetary realm or beyond. In the policy fields of foreign, security, and defense—equally of supreme importance—France’s and Germany’s disparate strategic cultures persist, and their visions of the EU’s role in international politics and security continue to diverge, most strikingly perhaps when it comes to the use of military force. Some of the key questions in these domains—how to position oneself and to act in an often dangerous and violent world in which the most comfortable and comforting answers do not always suffice—continue especially to plague German elites.

Plaque commemorating the restoration of relations between Germany and France, showing Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle. Photo by Adam Carr, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

However, it is the seemingly ever worsening loss of economic performance and competitiveness on France’s side, the erosion of the domestic economic bases of France’s bilateral and European standing, and the growing bilateral asymmetry in power and influence between the two countries, that pose the greatest challenge for the future of the Franco-German connection and for the survival of the Eurozone. While it is hardly conceivable that the Franco-German relationship could be based on a France lastingly in the role of the junior partner, the European Union more than ever requires strong leadership in order to navigate through its arguably deepest set of crises since its emergence from the treaties of Paris and Rome. Neither German hegemony, nor frequently weakened or inchoate supranational European institutions, nor another bilateralism or minilateral grouping is available to act as a replacement for the joint Franco-German role at the core of Europe.

The ability of France to face the realities of decline, and the courage and political will of its leaders to comprehensively reform the social and economic model—no matter how painful or divisive domestically—are indispensable conditions for that the tremendous success story of the Franco-German connection in Europe to continue and blossom beyond the celebrations of the Elysée Treaty’s anniversary and the Franco-German year.

Ulrich Krotz and Joachim Schild are the authors of Shaping Europe: France, Germany, and Embedded Bilateralism from the Elysée Treaty to Twenty-First Century Politics. Ulrich Krotz is Professor at the European University Institute, where he holds the Chair in International Relations in the Political Science Department and the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. Joachim Schild is Professor of Political Science at the University of Trier.

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12. Thomas Gray and Horace Walpole on the grand tour to spread news of a papal election, 1739/1740

By Dr. Robert V. McNamee

On Sunday, 29 March 1739, two young men, aspiring authors and student friends from Eton College and Cambridge, departed Dover for the Continent. The twenty-two year old Horace Walpole, 4th earl of Orford (1717–1797), was setting out on his turn at the Grand Tour. Accompanying him on the journey, which would take them through France to Italy, was Thomas Gray (1716–1771), future author of the “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”. The pair stayed abroad until September 1741, when an argument saw Gray return to England alone.

Travelling through Catholic domains, they would witness at arms-length one of the longest transfers of papal power in history, only four days shorter than the Interregnum, later imposed by the Napoleonic French, between the expulsion from the Papal States of Pius VI (who died 1799) and the election of Pius VII (14 March 1800). The on-going power struggle between the papacy and Catholic rulers of Europe, particularly with France, Spain and Portugal, had reached new levels of intensity — the latter two objecting in particular to unwelcome Jesuit interference in their treatment (read, “mistreatment”) of native populations in their overseas empires. The issue was still critical twenty years later, when Voltaire, under the pseudonym M. Demand, wrote to the Journal encyclopédique (1 April 1759), in the guise of identifying the real author of Candide, offering in partial evidence reports from the confrontations between Jesuits and colonial officials over their dealings with native populations in Paraguay.

The correspondence and journals of Gray and Walpole chart their travels, visits and discoveries across France and into Italy. The two young English travellers arrived in Florence on 16 December 1739, after a two days’ journey from Bologna across the Apennines. It was only two months before the ancient drama of papal passing and election would attract the attention of the world. Gray reported this news, when it came, to his friend Dr Thomas Wharton, writing on Saturday, 12 March 1740:

I conclude you will write to me; won’t you? oh! yes, when you know, that in a week I set out for Rome, & that the Pope is dead, & that I shall be (I should say, God willing; & if nothing extraordinary intervene; & if I’m alive, & well; & in all human probability) at the Coronation of a new one.

Clement XII (Papa Clemens duodecimus, born Lorenzo Corsini) had been pope from his election on 12 July 1730. He was the oldest person to become pope until Benedict XVI was elected in 2005. Clement died on 6 February 1740, and was eventually succeeded by Benedict XIV (Papa Benedictus quartus decimus, born Pròspero Lorenzo Lambertini), who was elected six months later on 17 August 1740. In a well-known anecdote of the election, Benedict is reported to have said to the cardinals: “If you wish to elect a saint, choose Gotti; a statesman, Aldrovandi; an honest man, me” (M. J. Walsh, Pocket Dictionary of Popes, London: Burns & Oates, 2006) — though as we will see from a contemporary report below, this is a rather colourless translation of the original.

A week later, Gray wrote to his mother Dorothy (Saturday, 19 March 1740):

The Pope is at last dead, and we are to set out for Rome on Monday next. The Conclave is still sitting there, and likely to continue so some time longer, as the two French Cardinals are but just arrived, and the German ones are still expected. It agrees mighty ill with those that remain inclosed: Ottoboni is already dead of an apoplexy; Altieri and several others are said to be dying, or very bad: Yet it is not expected to break up till after Easter. We shall lie at Sienna the first night, spend a day there, and in two more get to Rome. One begins to see in this country the first promises of an Italian spring, clear unclouded skies, and warm suns, such as are not often felt in England; yet, for your sake, I hope at present you have your proportion of them, and that all your frosts, and snows, and short-breaths are, by this time, utterly vanished. I have nothing new or particular to inform you of; and, if you see things at home go on much in their old course, you must not imagine them more various abroad. The diversions of a Florentine Lent are composed of a sermon in the morning, full of hell and the devil; a dinner at noon, full of fish and meager diet; and, in the evening, what is called a Conversazione, a sort of aſsembly at the principal people’s houses, full of I cannot tell what: Besides this, there is twice a week a very grand concert.

Two weeks later, after their arrival in Rome, Gray wrote another Saturday letter to his mother (2 April 1740):

St. Peter’s I saw the day after we arrived, and was struck dumb with wonder. I there saw the Cardinal d’Auvergne, one of the French ones, who, upon coming off his journey, immediately repaired hither to offer up his vows at the high altar, and went directly into the Conclave; the doors of which we saw opened to him, and all the other immured Cardinals came thither to receive him. Upon his entrance they were closed again directly. It is supposed they will not come to an agreement about a Pope till after Easter, though the confinement is very disagreeable.”

The conflict between catholic rulers, their national churches and the papacy led to prolonged disagreements and manoeuvrings in the Conclave, as evidenced by this letter from Walpole and Gray to their schoolboy friend, then fellow of King’s College Cambridge (Rome, 14 May 1740):

Boileau’s Discord dwelt in a College of Monks. At present the Lady is in the Conclave. Cardinal Corsini has been interrogated about certain Millions of Crowns that are absent from the Apostolic Chamber; He refuses giving Account, but to a Pope: However he has set several Arithmeticians to work, to compose Summs, & flourish out Expenses, which probably never existed. Cardinal Cibo pretends to have a Banker at Genoa, who will prove that he has received three Millions on the Part of the Eminent Corsini. This Cibo is a madman, but set on by others. He had formerly some great office in the government, from whence they are generally rais’d to the Cardinalate. After a time, not being promoted as he expected, he resign’d his Post, and retir’d to a Mountain where He built a most magnificient Hermitage. There He inhabited for two years, grew tir’d, came back and received the Hat.

Other feuds have been between Card. Portia and the Faction of Benedict the Thirteenth, by whom He was made Cardinal. About a month ago, he was within three Votes of being Pope. he did not apply to any Party, but went gleaning privately from all & of a sudden burst out with a Number; but too soon, & that threw Him quite out. Having been since left out of their Meetings, he ask’d one of the Benedictine Cardinals the reason; who replied, that he never had been their Friend, & never should be of their assemblies; & did not even hesitate to call him Apostate. This flung Portia into such a Rage that He spit blood, & instantly left the Conclave with all his Baggage. But the great Cause of their Antipathy to Him, was His having been one of the Four, that voted for putting Coscia to Death; Who now regains his Interest, & may prove somewhat disagreable to his Enemies; Whose Honesty is not abundantly heavier than His Own. He met Corsini t’other Day, & told Him, He heard His Eminence had a mind to his Cell: Corsini answer’d He was very well contented with that He had. Oh, says Coscia, I don’t mean here in the Conclave; but in the Castle St. Angelo.

With all these Animosities, One is near having a Pope. Card. Gotti, an Old, inoffensive Dominican, without any Relations, wanted yesterday but two voices; & is still most likely to succeed. Card. Altieri has been sent for from Albano, whither he was retir’d upon account of his Brother’s Death, & his own Illness; & where He was to stay till the Election drew nigh. There! there’s a sufficient Competency of Conclave News, I think. We have miserable Weather for the Season; Coud You think I was writing to You by my fireside at Rome in the middle of May? the Common People say tis occasion’d by the Pope’s Soul, which cannot find Rest.

As the bickering and accusations continued, Gray returned to Florence, where he reported to his father Philip (10 July 1740):

The Conclave we left in greater uncertainty than ever; the more than ordinary liberty they enjoy there, and the unusual coolneſs of the season, makes the confinement leſs disagreeable to them than common, and, consequently, maintains them in their irresolution. There have been very high words, one or two (it is said) have come even to blows; two more are dead within this last month, Cenci and Portia; the latter died distracted; and we left another (Altieri) at the extremity: Yet nobody dreams of an election till the latter end of September. All this gives great scandal to all good catholics, and everybody talks very freely on the subject.

Pope Benedict XIVFinally, on Sunday, 21 August 1740, Gray wrote again to his mother with the news of the new pope’s election:

The day before yesterday arrived the news of a Pope; and I have the mortification of being within four days journey of Rome, and not seeing his coronation, the heats being violent, and the infectious air now at its height. We had an instance, the other day, that it is not only fancy. Two country fellows, strong men, and used to the country about Rome, having occasion to come from thence hither, and travelling on foot, as common with them, one died suddenly on the road; the other got hither, but extremely weak, and in a manner stupid; he was carried to the hospital, but died in two days. So, between fear and lazineſs, we remain here, and must be satisfied with the accounts other people give us of the matter. The new Pope is called Benedict XIV. being created Cardinal by Benedict XIII. the last Pope but one. His name is Lambertini, a noble Bolognese, and Archbishop of that city. When I was first there, I remember to have seen him two or three times; he is a short, fat man, about sixty-five years of age, of a hearty, merry countenance, and likely to live some years. He bears a good character for generosity, affability, and other virtues; and, they say, wants neither knowledge nor capacity. The worst side of him is, that he has a nephew or two; besides a certain young favourite, called Melara, who is said to have had, for some time, the arbitrary disposal of his purse and family. He is reported to have made a little speech to the Cardinals in the Conclave, while they were undetermined about an election, as follows: ‘Most eminent Lords, here are three Bolognese of different characters, but all equally proper for the Popedom. If it be your pleasures, to pitch upon a Saint, there is Cardinal Gotti; if upon a Politician, there is Aldrovandi; if upon a Booby, here am I.’ The Italian is much more expreſsive, and, indeed, not to be translated; wherefore, if you meet with any body that understands it, you may show them what he said in the language he spoke it. ‘Eminſsimi. Sigri. Ci siamo tré, diversi sì, mà tutti idonei al Papato. Si vi piace un Santo, c’ è l’Gotti; se volete una testa scaltra, e Politica, c’ è l’Aldrovandé;c se un Coglione, eccomi!’ Cardinal Coscia is restored to his liberty, and, it is said, will be to all his benefices. Corsini (the late Pope’s nephew) as he has had no hand in this election, it is hoped, will be called to account for all his villanous practices.”

Dr. Robert V. McNamee is the Director of the Electronic Enlightenment Project, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.

Electronic Enlightenment is a scholarly research project of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, and is available exclusively from Oxford University Press. It is the most wide-ranging online collection of edited correspondence of the early modern period, linking people across Europe, the Americas, and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century — reconstructing one of the world’s great historical “conversations”.

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Image Credit: (1) Print Collection portrait file, Thomas Gray, Portraits. Source NYPL Digital Gallery
(2) Print Collection portrait file, B, Pope Benedict XIV. Source NYPL Digital Gallery

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13. The financial decline of great powers

By Guy Rowlands

When great powers decline it is often the case that financial troubles are a key component of the slide. The vertiginous decline of a state’s financial system under extreme pressure, year after year, not only saps the strength and volume of financial activity, it also proves extremely difficult to reverse, and the great risk is that a disastrous situation is worsened by misguided and ultimately catastrophic attempts on the part of a government to dig itself out of its hole. So great does the eventual debt become that there is little hope of repaying even a majority of the capital, even with decades of peace and low spending ahead. The protracted financial and economic crisis that began in the West in 2007 provides an appropriate contemporary backdrop for a fresh examination of the decline of France’s financial system in the early eighteenth century under just such a mountain of poorly-backed debt. In the final decades of the seventeenth century France had been the leading great power in the European states system, indeed the only superpower capable of projecting significant force on multiple war fronts. Yet within a quarter of a century it had lost this comparative international advantage, as its financial strength degenerated alongside its military power.

France got into such a terrible mess in the final two decades of Louis XIV’s reign. While war was the essential cause of heightened state spending, as the largest economy in Europe France should have been able to sustain a protracted and extensive conflict, but it could not. The underlying problem was the combination of two classic, fatal ingredients: a weak fiscal base, and a precarious and expensive credit system. The tax base was chronically enfeebled by vast numbers of exemptions and privileges that the government only began to tackle in 1695. But tentative attempts to make the elites — the top 2-3% — contribute more to the costs of the state would, over the following 90 years, prove politically contentious and divisive, sapping the legitimacy of the monarchy. As for the weakness of credit, this arose not just from the problem of weak fiscal backing and the fact much of it was supplied by those entrepreneurs charged with tax collection. It also stemmed from the inherent unreliability of a government dominated by an absolute monarch, which at times was willing to threaten dealers in the foreign exchange and public debt markets with prison and professional proscription for pricing financial instruments on a realistic but unfavourable basis. Compounding these issues were huge concerns over the undependable and sclerotic legal framework for lending money at interest. France was, in short, overregulated, but capriciously so.

In the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14) this system unravelled spectacularly. As tax yields declined the government pursued dangerous expedients, including the manipulation of the value of the coinage and the issuing of vast quantities of Mint bills: a hybrid of paper money and short-term credit notes. Furthermore, rather than relying overwhelmingly on well-organised advances on tax proceeds from leading tax collectors, the government turned the paymasters of the armed forces into state creditors on a giant scale. Louis XIV’s government became so dependent on these men and other entrepreneurs supplying the army and navy that they were able to make exorbitant demands. Some of them even penetrated the corridors of power as junior ministers, in an early form of military-industrial complex. All this came at a very high price indeed. The financiers and suppliers were rapacious, though they also needed to protect their own solvency and operations by ramping up costs as a form of insurance against arbitrary state management and the increasing number of revenue sources that were failing. These revenue failures played havoc with the system of appropriating revenue sources to expenditure, which was already being disastrously mismanaged by senior officials, and this earmarking chaos in turn threw the state even further into debt in a desperate attempt to keep the failing war effort going. This war effort was pursued much of the time beyond France’s borders, putting yet further strain on the state: Louis XIV needed vast amounts of foreign exchange to pay and supply his armies and allies in Spain, Italy, Bavaria, the Low Countries, and even Hungary. The volume of foreign currency required would naturally have pushed up its price, but the turbulent and deteriorating monetary and fiscal backdrop led international bankers to build astronomical costs into their exchange contracts for moving state money abroad. The failure to control their transactions, the separation of risky payment sources from their additional instruments of guarantee, and the short-selling of this paper precipitated a monumental crash of the exchange clearing system in early 1709 in Lyon, from which the city never really recovered.

By the time of Louis XIV’s death in 1715 French state debt had risen more than three-fold from the size it had been thirty years earlier, and much of that increase was down to a few short years between 1702 and 1708 — the early modern period may in many ways have seen a much slower pace of life than we experience, but financial crises could unfold roughly at a similar pace. The real danger is that it can take as long or far longer to effect a stabilisation and recovery, thus tempting governments into dangerous policy decisions to try to generate swift recoveries. In the years after 1715 the Regency government for the boy king Louis XV took exactly this course, seeking to liquidate much of the state debt by swallowing the snake-oil solution peddled by John Law of hitching debt to a national bank backed by vast speculation on the highly uncertain economic future of overseas trade and colonisation. The subsequent liquidation of Law’s System forced the government into inflicting enormous haircuts on creditors, further eroding confidence in the monarchy, while future generations were still saddled with levels of debt that the state machinery was not designed to cope with. It also condemned the French body politic to a series of destabilising political struggles over state finance that culminated in final breakdown and revolution.

Guy Rowlands is Director of the Centre for French History and Culture at the University of St Andrews, and author of The Financial Decline of a Great Power: War, Influence, and Money in Louis XIV’s France (Oxford, 2012). He is also the author of The Dynastic State and the Army under Louis XIV: Royal Service and Private Interest, 1661-1701 (Cambridge, 2002), for which he was co-winner of the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize (2002).

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Image credit: Louis XIV and His Family circa 1710. Wallace Collection. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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14. Artist of the Day: Paul Castera

Paul Castera

Paul Castera is an illustrator with a probable connection to the animation world considering the types of scenes and styles that appear in his images, and the fact that I followed a link trail to his work that was just filthy with animators. See Paul’s work here.

Paul Castera

There is also a bit of animation here by Paul, completed at the Ecole Professionnelle Supérieure d’Arts graphique et d’Architecture de la Ville de Paris, or EPSAA for those who don’t have all day.

Paul Castera

Paul Castera

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15. The Motor Maid

Someday I’m going to run out of books by the Williamsons where some people go on a road trip through part of Europe and at least one person isn’t what they seem and someone falls in love with the chauffeur. And on that day I will be very sad.

The Motor Maid has some really, really great bits, but mostly I enjoyed it as a good example of the Williamsons’ mini genre. (Has anyone encountered one of these chauffeurs-and-sightseeing-and-incognito books written by anyone else?) See, on one hand there’s the beginning, which takes place on a train and has a rough parallel to the beginning of Miss Cayley’s Adventures and made me think I might be starting my new favorite Williamsons book, but on the other hand this might be the snobbiest Williamsons book ever.

Our heroine is Lys d’Angely, a half French, half American orphan who’s running away from her surviving relatives so they can’t make her marry a massively wealthy manufacturer of corn plasters. New money is inherently disgusting to the Williamsons, but they’ve also made him personally disgusting, whether for the benefit of their less prejudiced readers or because they can’t conceive of a manufacturer of corn plasters who isn’t super gross, I don’t know. Anyway, Lys’ friend Pam has found her a job as companion to an elderly Russian princess and a first class ticket to Cannes to get her to it. And then Pam promptly disappears to America with her husband because the rest of the book requires that she not be on hand to give Lys any further assistance.

I should stop mocking this bit of the book though, because it’s awesome. Lys has an upper berth on the train, and the woman in the lower one is noisily unable to sleep. Also, her bulldog is runnng around on the floor below, making threatening noises. Eventually Lys gets sick of listening to the woman complain to herself about how awful she feels, so she climbs down and forcibly undresses her. Then they drink tea and eat snacks and Lys makes friends with the bulldog and everything is basically perfect. This is the bit that reminded me of Lois Cayley’s initial interactions with Lady Georgina, and I started hoping that Lys would take a job with Miss Paget and that they would have awesome adventures together. Instead, Miss Paget leaves Lys with her English address and the promise of a job if she ever needs one, and Lys arrives in Cannes to find that her prospective employer, Princess Boriskoff, has just died.

This is where the main body of the plot kicks in. An impoverished Irish noblewoman (because the Williamsons sometimes have trouble writing books without those) helps Lys find a job as lady’s maid to the nouveau riche wife of a manufacturer of liver pills. Both Lys and Lady Kilmarny are horrified by Lady Turnour and her husband, but Lys is broke, and this job will get her back to England. And while Lady Turnour is in fact awful — although I blame this more on the authors than the character — Lys ends up enjoying accompanying the Turnours on their trip through the South of France. This is a little bit because of the scenery, but mostly because of the chauffeur. His name is Jack Dane and he’s in a similar situation to Lys’ — he’s clearly a gentleman but has had to hire himself out as a chauffeur for reasons he doesn’t care to explain. They quickly become friends, and have pretty good chemistry of a very Williamsons-ish kind.

Having wound up the mechanism of the plot, the Williamsons pretty much let it toddle along by itself from there. The ending is abrupt, and makes the beginning feel too long, maybe, but The Motor Maid is a lot of fun. Except that I kept stopping and wondering whether the Williamsons — and their characters — are always quite this mean about people who aren’t like them. Lys and Jack are both poor but aristocratic, and they spend a lot of time mocking the Turnours and their stepson, who were all born into the lower classes. Neither of them associates at all with anyone in their current social position, and very few of the people they interact with on their travels meet with their approval. It’s an interesting setup, having the actual gentlefolk waiting on the social climbers, but the execution is a little too mean-spirited for it to be as fun as it could be. And in the end, the Williamsons were even a little bit mean about Miss Paget.

This is going to make it sound like I didn’t like The Motor Maid, but I did, a lot. It’s as Williamsons as it gets, and I like them. It just also made me a little bit uncomfortable.

Tagged: 1910s, france, travel, williamsons

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16. Animated Fragments #23

It’s the return of a readers’ favorite: Animated Fragments. These clips celebrate the briefest of the brief: short animated experiments, work-in-progress clips, advertising pieces, animated GIFs, trailers and and small pieces that otherwise wouldn’t have a home on Cartoon Brew. For more, visit the Animated Fragments archive.

“La zona blanca” by Reza Riahi (Iran/France)

“Louis” by Mathilde Parquet (France)

“Amoo Lucky” teaser for Riz Mouj Co. directed by Mohammad Kheirandish/Tuca Animation Studio (Iran)

“Cake” (WIP) by Anna P

“NoName Walk Cycle” by Ariel Victor (Australia)

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17. Maggie Welcomes Thousands of Visitors Worldwide

Maggie Steele, the storybook heroine who vaults over the moon, has been attracting thousands of visitors from around the world. So many visitors, in fact, that she’s using a time zone map to keep track of them all.* People are … Continue reading

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18. Aurelien Debat

Aurelien Debat via grain edit

Beautiful illustration work from Aurelien Debat, a graduate of the School of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg.

Aurelien Debat via grain edit

Aurelien Debat via grain edit

Aurelien Debat via grain edit

Aurelien Debat via grain edit

Aurelien Debat via grain edit

Aurelien Debat via grain edit

Aurelien Debat via grain edit


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Alain Gree
Ryohei Yanagihara
Malota Projects

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19. Noémie Cédille

Noémie Cédille

Charming work from Noemie Cedille, a designer and illustrator based in Paris.

Noémie Cédille




Noémie Cédille


Noémie Cédille


Noémie Cédille



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20. Les Graphiquants

Les Graphiquants via #grainedit

Established in 2008, Les Graphiquants is a design studio based in Paris, France. With a portfolio that is ripe in typographic exploration, they create work that is highly expressive and uncompromising in it’s approach.


Les Graphiquants via #grainedit


Les Graphiquants via #grainedit

Les Graphiquants via #grainedit

Les Graphiquants via #grainedit

Les Graphiquants via #grainedit

Les Graphiquants via #grainedit

Les Graphiquants via #grainedit


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21. What have you got hiding in your bathtub?

dinoinbathtubPick up There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub by Catalina Echeverri and let your hair down; turn the pages and you’ll enter into a joyous and playful imaginary world with ice-creams so tall you need a ladder to eat them and a roller-coaster ride through a fairground filled with outsized lollipops and candy cane.

Your guides for this adventure of delight are Amelia and her pal Pierre.

Who just happens to be a dinosaur.

From France.

With a magnificent moustache.

Yes, this is a bonkers tale, full of happiness, wish fulfilment and whimsical fun. Oh what mischievous good times can be had with a cheese chomping dinosaur, especially one who can hide so well from your parents!


Echeverri’s carefree, light-hearted tale combining fantasy food and a (secret) dino of one’s very own is a winner. On a practical note, primary schools with French lessons could include this to jazz up story time, for the text is very lightly seasoned with a few French phrases. But really this book is about fun and nonsense. Silliness, sweets and someone special to share it with – we could all enjoy a dose of that, couldn’t we?

And would you believe it, not long after sharing this book with my girls, what did I discover in our own bathtub?


It seems Pierre paid us a visit, complete with his beret, and stripy cardigan, manicured moustache and penchant for flouncy fun!


So now you’ve seen how we created costumes for Mortimer Keene, Squishy McFluff and Pierre the Dinosaur. But there are even more ideas for dressing up as a book character over on Book Aid International’s website.


If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know by now that I’m a long running supporter of Book Aid. A few years ago we did a sponsored Librarithon, and then we had a marvellous competition to win an original illustration by one of my favourite illustrators, Katie Cleminson, in return for guessing how many books I had in my home at that time.

I love what Book Aid do because they know that books change lives. Every year they send around half a million brand new books to Africa, reaching thousands of readers in towns, villages, prisons, refugee camps, schools, hospitals and universities across sub-Saharan Africa.

Maybe you could use this year’s World Book Day to also support what Book Aid does? Here are some great ideas to get you going!

But whatever you do, don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to be in with a chance of winning my final giveaway. Yes, I have one copy of There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub by Catalina Echeverri to send to a reader…

Giveaway details

The giveaway is open to residents in UK/Eire only. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post.

For extra entries you can:

    (1) Tweet about this giveaway, perhaps using this text:
    Win a copy of the hilarious There’s A Dinosaur in my Bathtub by @cataverri over on @playbythebook’s blog http://www.playingbythebook.net/?p=28960
    (2) Share this giveaway on your Facebook page or blog

You must leave a separate comment for each entry for them to count.

  • The winner will be chosen at random using random.org.
  • The giveaway is open for just over one week, and closes on World Book Day itself, Thursday 6th March 2014 5pm UK time. I will contact the winner via email. If I do not hear back from the winner within one week of emailing them, I will re-draw a winner.
  • Good luck!

    Disclosure: My thanks go to the publishers, Bloomsbury, for donating the book for this giveaway, and for sending me a review copy. I was approached by Book Aid to spread the word about the charity and I am very happy to do so. I received no payment for this post.

    3 Comments on What have you got hiding in your bathtub?, last added: 2/28/2014
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    22. you've come a long way baby

    When I began my first travel themed journal I filled it with the souvenirs I'd brought from my trips. Because back then I would never draw in front of people, and so I could draw the souvenirs from the privacy of my own home. In fact, when I made my second little zine I wrote inside "I am a reluctant public sketcher. Actually, that is a big fat understatement. The thought of drawing in public fills me with horror". That was about three years ago.

     And, here I am today. drawing on planes, and in airports, cafes, parks and streets. I made the sketches, above, on the way back from France. I was sat with a really nice French guy who watched me draw through the whole flight. He commented on my sketches and even suggested the passengers who I should draw. The guy who is asleep in the middle of the page was looking over my shoulder at what I was doing (when he'd woken up, obviously!) and the flight attendant came over to take a look. I didn't mind. At all.

     I don't know what has changed in a relatively short space of time. I'm certain it's not one thing. Sure, my confidence has grown and I worry less that people will think my work is rubbish. When I reflect on how far I've come it inspires me to keep on going. And, to keep pushing myself in directions that I never thought I'd go. Roads I never thought I'd travel down. Learning as much as I can to become the best illustrator that I can be. 'Cos, I love drawing. It's as simple as that really; I just love drawing.

    16 Comments on you've come a long way baby, last added: 12/27/2012
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    23. Colour Inspiration: Provençal Village Hues


    The pretty little village of Roussillon, Provence, France.


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    24. Colour Inspiration: Cloudy Autumn Sky Hues

    24 Cloudy-Autumn-Sky-Hues

    Taken while on the road in Provence, France.


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    25. Colour Inspiration: Sweet Sunset Hues



    A Provençal sunset. Aren't those colours amazing? Another lovely way of putting the year to bed before greeting the new one, isn't it? Cheers.


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