Even a Sparrow Can Live it Up

The cheerful sparrow Emma, whom readers met during her early days in Emma’s Journey, rises to the challenge of creating a new, exciting life for herself in Paris.  Emma in Paris by Claire Frossard

With her trademark pink polka-dot boots and her puffy white beret topped by a red pom-pom, Emma arrives from New York City with nothing but her cousin Amélie’s address in Montmartre. Knowing little French, she finds it difficult to locate her, especially as the first few strangers she encounters offer no help.

That doesn’t stop Emma, however, who visits a bookstall along the Seine to buy herself a French-English dictionary. Soon her luck improves when a white cat, grateful that Emma returned money he’s dropped, offers to share a croque-monsieur with her at a sidewalk café.

Children will delight in the many humorous details writer/illustrator Claire Frossard adds to the sharp, well-composed photographs by Christophe Urbain. Birds flutter about wearing colorful helmets, a bluebird walks her pet ladybug, snails cavort among lush heads of lettuce, and young mice ride tiny bikes.

In addition to the engrossing artwork, the plot’s revelation of Emma’s bohemian lifestyle, shared with her cousin, will appeal to many children’s sense of adventure. What child hasn’t dreamed of joining the circus and entertaining crowds with daring feats of fire eating, juggling, and walking a tightrope?

As readers follow the developments of Emma’s thrilling new life, they will encounter such quintessential Parisian sites as the Arc de Triomphe, the Luxembourg Gardens, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. Consequently, Emma in Paris is a superb choice for adults who want to introduce children to the City of Lights. Whatever the motivation, most will find this amusing picture book très charmant.

Reprinted with permission from New York Journal of Books.

More recommended books set in France (first two titles for ages 4 to 7, last title for middle school):

Dodsworth in Paris by Tim EganAnatole and the Cat by Eve TitusBox of Gargoyles by Anne Nesbet

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