Thursday, December 7
Adele & Simon
by Barbara McClintock
FSG/Francis Foster Books 2006
Adele's mission is to pick up her younger brother Simon and bring him home in tact, that is, without having misplaced his clothing and other personal items along the way. Naturally, as they drift through central Paris there are many distractions, and Simon manages to lose something at every stop. A drawing here, a scarf there, mittens and cap, arriving home unburdened nearly by half of what Simon possess on the cover of the book. In the end the items are delivered to their door by the friendly Parisians they met along the way who seem familiar with Simon's forgetful ways.
The look and feel of the book is pure mid-20th century, the soft watercolor glow of a Paris long gone. The double-page spreads of each locale are rich with detail begging the observant reader to try and locate Simon's misplaced items. The endpapers even provide a map of the city with each of Adele and Simon's stops numbered so you can follow their meandering route from school to home.
The nostalgia of the setting gives the book an air of unforced innocence, a balancing act that McClintock carries off with deceptive ease. It's a hard book not to like. Which is to say, I really enjoyed this little adventure.