And you know me - I love any chance to make art,
especially for a party.
A trip abroad = the perfect opportunity to go book shopping! While in Paris I spent an afternoon at a bookstore called “Chantelivre,” perusing their delightful collection of picture books and comics/graphic novels. (The latter category, “Bande Dessinée,” are hugely popular in France, for all ages.)
The same titles and names seem to dominate the shelves at my book stores at home, but in France I found lots of new treasures to discover. (There were a couple familiar faces: Mike Curato’s Little Elliot and Oliver Jeffers’ crayon books, and some classics like Max et les Maximonstres, a.k.a. Where the Wild Things Are. )
I was dazzled by this pop-up book by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud, Dans la Foret du Paresseaux (In the Forest of the Sloth.)
The complexity of the pop-up engineering was nicely balanced by the simple geometry of the illustrations. With just a few words, the text made me anxious for the plight of the sloth, who we watch napping as danger nears. The book shows the ravages of deforestation, but it is not without hope.
The saleswoman asked me the age of the child I was shopping for. I explained (slightly sheepishly) that I was just buying books for my own collection. She introduced me to a few French classics, including Gabrielle Vincent’s Ernest et Célestine series:
…And she also pointed out Benjamin Chaud’s Poupoupiadours, which combined whimsical and detailed illustrations with creative use of die cutting. Children could read this book again and again and see new things every time. There are several books in this series and they’re all pretty delightful.
I couldn’t resist Franz, Dora, La Petite Fille et sa Poupée by Didier Lévy and Tiziana Romanin for the charming story and elegant illustrations of Berlin in the 1920’s. Franz is none other than Franz Kafka, and the book tells the story of how a chance encounter in the park with a little girl who lost her doll brings a smile back to the girl’s face and helps the disillusioned writer rediscover the joy of creating.
Then there was Le Merveilleux Dodu-Velu-Petit, by Beatrice Alemagna, which was like stepping directly into the weird and wacky imagination of our plucky little protagonist. What is a “Dodu-Velu-Petit,” you say? Why, it’s this pink creature (obviously!) It is described as, among other things, “hairy, inedible and extremely rare.” The creature’s many uses are shown on the page at right. (They translate as follows: pillow, scarf, decorative plant, personal masseur, incredible hat, treasure-collector, domestic help, living sculpture, and paintbrush.) I think this is actually an Italian book translated into French.
Among the Bande Dessinée, I particularly enjoyed Les Carnets de Cerise By Joris Chamblain and Aurélie Neyret for the way that the story alternated between standard comic book cells showing action and scrapbook-like pages showing the protagonist’s journal and sketches. The series follows the eponymous 11-year old, a curious aspiring novelist, on her various adventures. Digital illustrations can sometimes feel a little cold, but in this case the artist did a great job of adding detail and texture to bring the art to life.
The only problem was finding enough space in the luggage to bring them all home.Add a Comment
Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs, author of Thérèse Makes a Tapestry, loves exploring new places, including France, where she once studied.Add a Comment
Today we are taking a look at the latest designs from Mini Labo. This cute Paris based company was founded by Celine Heno and Caroline Diaz and specialises in stationery, paper, homewares and ceramics. New items include the gorgeous art prints (above & below), prettily packaged soaps and Children's tableware. You can find Mini Labo products for sale online here.Add a Comment
Last week we featured the Ikea prints designed by Laure Girardin Vissian. Well Laure got in touch to tell us about her other activity as artistic director and textile designer for a French knitting brand for home : Néo. This high end woven and knit collection was born out of a collaboration between Ateliers de Boissiers, French Label EPV and Laure with her creative team.Add a Comment
As representatives from 146 countries gather in Paris for the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference, we’ve turned to our Very Short Introduction series for insight into the process, politics and topics of discussion of the conference. Is the UNFCCC process flawed?
The post Climate change and the Paris Conference: is the UNFCCC process flawed? appeared first on OUPblog.Add a Comment
It has begun again: the age-old cycle of hate and counter-hate, self-justification and counter-justification, the grim celebrations of righteousness and revenge. In the US, conservative politicians play on it as demagogues always have, projecting strength and patriotism by refusing to take refugees from the lands terrorized by ISIS; my own governor, Chris Christie, tries to outdo his competition by arguing that even five-year-old orphans from Syria should be stopped and sent back, as if they are tainted by being from the same part of the world as the murderers.Add a Comment
On 28 November 2015, I had a reading and panel discussion at Médiathèque André Malraux, a library and media centre in Strasbourg, the main city of the Alsace region of France, adjoining Germany, traditionally one of the Christmas capitals of the continent, and currently the site of the European Parliament.Add a Comment
The Story of Diva and Flea “As Told” by Mo Willems “As Shown” by Tony DiTerlizzi Hyperion Books for Children 10/13/ 2015 978-1-4847-2284-8 80 pages Ages 6—8 “Diva, a small yet brave dog, and Flea, a curious streetwise cat, develop an unexpected friendship in this unforgettable tale of discovery. For as long as …Add a Comment
What do you do when you are at a posh reception at the French embassy to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of one of the top French Children’s publishing houses, ”Ecole des Loisirs, and you spot one of your favorite author/illustrators … Continue readingAdd a Comment
The Playtime exhibition opened in Paris yesterday. This is the top French exhibition for buying children's prints in the 'Creatif Space' section. There are lots of artists and studios exhibiting with focus on graphic and print designs and collections for children, juniors and maternity. One of those exhibiting is Bikini sous la Pluie. Caroline Bourles of the studio Bikini sous la Pluie hasAdd a Comment
Given the recent tragic events in Paris, Vincent Mahé’s absolutely stunning 750 Years In Paris is a sprawling reminder that this is not the first time darkness has been cast over that city, and it’s likely not the last. Paris has been home to bloodshed and destruction, as well as a site of rebuilding and […]Add a Comment
I connected with Maral on Facebook because I swoon at her artwork and because she is a huge Francophile like me. She is relatively new to children’s books, but her work has been well received: selected in Society of Illustrators (Illustrators … Continue readingAdd a Comment
Another exhibition opening this weekend is Playtime Paris where designer Gabriela Larios will be showing her portfolioin the Crea tif. Space. From 31st January - 2nd February Gabriela will be exhibiting some of her latest designs, prints and illustrations for the children’s market, created and hand painted in her home based studio in London. Many of them inspired by Gabriela's love for pictureAdd a Comment
We’ve a week’s holiday from school coming up and will be travelling around the country visiting family, and this means we’ve several multi-hour journeys ahead of us. Journeys are my favourite time for enjoying stories and our bags always include:
Favourite audiobooks include the How to train your Dragon series, voiced by David “former Dr Who” Tennant, enriched with great music and sound effects, David Walliams reading his own stories (not surprisingly, he does really funny voices), and Tony “Baldrick” Robinson’s Theseus and Odysseus. New for our next journey will be The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell (thanks to @HawthornPressUK for the recommendation).
As we subscribe to several magazines and comics at home, reading choices for the train are made from what is available in the station newsagents so that the kids get to try something they wouldn’t have at home. Often they’ll chose a wildlife, craft or archaeology magazine. Technically these may be marketed for adults, but they are often much more engaging than those aimed at kids as they have more content, fewer adverts and less “plastic crap” on the front (a bonus from my point of view).
When looking for activity books to take on journeys my first port of call is always the online shops of museums and art galleries; generally speaking these are good sources of slightly more unusual or quirky activity books. This holiday I’ll be taking DoodleFlip Dress-Up by Hennie Haworth, Stickyscapes London by Robert Samuel Hanson, and also Stickyscapes Paris by Malika Favre.
DoodleFlip Dress-Up is a mix and match, lift the flap fashion colouring-in book. There’s lot to choose from; maybe your creation will have the legs of a ballerina, the floaty dress of a hippy, the accessories of a pirate and the helmet of an astronaut (all figures are female). Prompts suggest ideas for filling several blank flaps with your own designs.
Whilst advertised as 3+, I think the style of illustration will appeal to much older children (say 8+); the designs are quite detailed and relatively small and also look more sophisticated than many colouring-in illustrations aimed at young children.
The two Stickyscapes books are great fun. They are large concertina style fold out cityscapes of the two cities, and come with lots of reusable stickers. One side of each fold-out shows the “real and present-day” city, whilst the other side depicts an “imaginary and historical” version of the city.
There’s lots to learn and explore in both sticker books. A key to each scene is included so you can identify landmarks around the city, and the stickers (a mixture of present-day, historical and fictional people, forms of transport and items you might find on the cities’ streets) come with explanatory notes, making this much more than “just” a sticker book.
I have just one complaint about these books: The population of these cities is far more diverse than the stickers would have you believe.
In the London book, there are perhaps three non-white people represented (out of a total of 33 modern day inhabitants and visitors), or to put it another way 9% of the sticker book modern day population is probably not white. According to the 2011 census just over 40% of Londoners identified themselves as non-white. Comparable figures are not easily obtainable for the French capital, but I suspect the demographics of this city are not accurately represented by the stickers in the Paris book, which could be seen to suggest a 100% white population.
Of course these books are just a bit of fun, and some will say I’m making too much of the hard numbers. But I’d disagree. Why wouldn’t we want the illustrations of these great cities to reflect their rich, mixed populations more accurately?
Alas we won’t be visiting either London or Paris during our travels, but at least we’ll be able to travel there in our imaginations, suitably decked out in the highest of fashion as designed by my kids! What book or story resources do you pack when you’re going on a long journey?
Disclosure: I received the three activity books from the publisher.
In 1890, the man who would one day be known by forty-five different aliases was born to the Miller family, in what is now the Czech Republic. His parents named him Robert.
Girl in Dior has been getting great press worldwide for its depiction of one of the most influential premiere collections in fashion history, but there are a couple of classic superhero connections as well.
Sixty-eight year old fashion spoiler alert!
As Girl in Dior aptly depicts, the designer’s debut collection split the fashion world. For some, the longer length of the skirts in Christian Dior’s first collection in 1947 was a step backward, but what ultimately won the day was a sense that Dior had tapped into deeper, more vital currents in the post-war West. Besides changing the course of fashion for a generation and, along the way, mentoring his successor in innovation, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior inspired a description that immediately became synonymous with his designs and, over time, any revolutionary break from existing style: the New Look.
Girl in Dior beautifully depicts the entry of this phrase into the fashion lexicon. After noting the presence of legendary Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow in the front row, author Annie Goetzinger lavishly recreates the moment when, following the show, Snow uttered the phrase that solidified Dior’s place in fashion history.
If you’re reading this site, though, chances are that you’re already thinking that the New Look sounds mighty familiar.
It was, of course, the name famously — and not coincidentally — given to the modernization of Batman's appearance in 1964.
But that wasn’t the first time Dior’s New Look appeared in Batman comics – there’s also a reference contemporaneous with Dior’s early work.
Dior’s New Look garnered a lot of press in the U.S., from the revolutionary collections in the late ’40s to the Dior-mania of the subsequent decade and more. For our purposes, two articles in particular stand out: a January 1948 New York Times piece headlined “New Look to Stay, Expert Asserts” and Life Magazine‘s coverage of Dior’s latest “New Look” collection in February 1948.
To see how such stories influenced comics, we can turn to the June 1948 of Batman, which re-tells Batman’s origin and includes his epic encounter with his father’s murderer, Joe Chill. However, that’s not the only story in this book, which deserves a digital restoration in full on Comixology (hint, hint).
The landmark Batman #47 actually opens with a Catwoman story called “Fashions in Crime.” The tale begins with Catwoman breaking out of jail, only to hear herself mocked by other women as she walks down the street while wearing her civilian clothes:
“Hmmph! She’s wearing a short skirt! She doesn’t have the NEW LOOK!”
As the women go on to ridicule her for not reading the latest fashion magazines, Catwoman makes the painful realization that “since [she’s] been in prison, the style has changed.” But this also gives her an entrepreneurial idea: she creates her own fashion magazine, Damsel, along with a Damsel fashion TV program.
Months later Damsel is the hottest media empire in the fashion world, and the scene shifts to an older socialite, who, wearing an elaborate hat, notes that Catwoman-turned-Damsel-publisher-Madame-Moderne’s latest designer favorite is “a gown by Millie Karnalee.” Karnalee’s name seems odd, but at the time it would have made sense as a pun on the popular American designer Hattie Carnegie, the subject of the January 1948 New York Times piece. Carnegie, besides, ahem, adapting (i.e. copying) Dior’s “New Look” at a lower price for the U.S. market, also made a point of condemning the predilection of younger women not to wear hats.
And despite a nifty later scene wear Batman cracks the case thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge of fashion illustration technique, that’s where the story begins to diverge from the world of Girl in Dior.
Apparently the writers weren’t aware of the free samples and ample cashflow that would have been accrued to the publisher of the world’s hottest fashion magazine, because Catwoman proceeds to use her newfound high-society access to steal clothes and rob women at an exclusive fashion show. Not surprisingly, the scene at Catwoman’s show is rather different from the more modest Parisian runways of the time — in true 1940s Batman fashion, it features “giant needles … scissors … thimbles … and a huge sewing machine!”
Girl in Dior might not end with a fight on oversized designer props, but it is nonetheless a most enlightening read. I could go on, but I’ll leave that to an actual reviewer – ceci n’est pas une critique de Jeune fille en Dior.Display Comments Add a Comment
I have known Sarah Towle since my early days of writing. Back before I moved from Nice to New York and she moved from Paris to London. One day we may actually end up living in the same city! We … Continue readingAdd a Comment
Both of today's discoveries were made as a result of a flying visit into The Conran Shop to look for a present. Whilst there I came across some notebooks by French studio Papier Tigre. Founded by a trio of three designers Julien Crespal, Agathe Demoulin and Maxime Brenon in 2011 Papier Tigre produce notebooks, cards, stationery and gift wrap in striking contemporary geometrics. TheirAdd a Comment
On October 27, 2005, two French youths of Tunisian and Malian descent died of electrocution in a local power station in the Parisian suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. Police had been patrolling their neighborhood, responding to a reported break-in, and scared that they might be subject to an arbitrary interrogation, the youngsters decided to hide in the nearest available building. Riots immediately broke out in the high-rise suburbs of Paris and in hundreds of neighborhoods across the country.Add a Comment
Barriers, like promises and piecrust, are made to be broken. Or broken down, rather. Translators, like teachers, are great breakers-down of barriers, though, like them, they are almost always undervalued. This autumn our minds and our media are full of images of razor-wire fences as refugees, fleeing war zones, try to cross borders legally or illegally in search of a safe haven.Add a Comment
The young woman who inspired Dumas’s La Dame aux Camélias and Verdi’s Violetta in La traviata conceived at least once in the course of her 23 years. At the time she was in her late teens. During the five years that followed the birth of her baby, between the ages of 17 and 22, she prospered as the leading courtesan of the most glamorous city in Europe. The word ‘courtesan’ is a euphemism for an upper class prostitute, a paid woman who doubled as a trophy exhibit at the theatre and opera.Add a Comment