When the Lion Came to Paris

Un Lion à Paris
by Beatrice Alemagna ★★★★★

I had decided to dedicate most of July to reading children’s and young adults books, but then discovered so many great illustrators that were unknown to me before that I decreed this month to be Children’s & YA July…in August. In this original story by Beatrice Alemagna, a lion, bored with his native savannah decides to take a train to Paris. When he arrives and starts touring the city on foot and via the métro, he is surprised and disappointed to discover that nobody seems to notice him. He visits some of the most popular spots of the city, from the Café de Flore in St-Germain to the pont des Arts, centre Pompidou, the Louvre, Sacré-Coeur and the Eiffel tower, and finally discovers a structure which seems to be awaiting his arrival, so he climbs on the base and decides to stay once he sees that the Parisians have finally taken notice of him and are cheering him on. Alemagna created this story based on the real life statue of the lion at Denfert-Rochereau, which is much loved by Parisians. This large book opens up vertically with imaginative illustrations that combine a mixture of collage elements from magazines from the 50s with her own fresh and spontaneous drawings. This makes for a truly unexpected result which encourages the reader to pore over the illustrations. I fell in love with this book and was tempted to buy my own copy until I saw the price, so decided to just hold on to my library loan for a while. A truly inspiring book and a fun and lighthearted way to visit (or re-visit) one of my favourite cities in the world.

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