Morgenstern's book won numerous French literature awards, and rightfully so. Morgenstern's writing style appears at first to be quiet and deliberate, but she sucks you in with Victoria's honest vivacious gabbing contrasted with the gentle direct observations made in Ernest's... well, earnest... voice as he discovers how interesting life can be. To give you a taste, here are some of my favorites:
Ernest looked carefully at this woman who had spent ten and a half years of her life pregnant, had had fourteen babies (maybe a world record), and despite it all seemed perfectly normal.
If someone invites you, go right ahead! For what could be more incredible, fascinating and amazing than another human being?
How could he be holding a baby? This was impossible. But just then he felt something funny. He felt a smile come across his face, stretching his mouth from ear to ear. ... Ernest had never been hugged before. This truly was seventh heaven.After I read this book I realized that, despite being listed under Paris (France) -- Fiction in the card catalog, Paris might never have been mentioned at all, although the book oozes Frenchness especially by way of the food -- the kids go home from school to have a leisurely lunch (beef fondue!), Ernest writes an essay about trying couscous for the first time, and he discovers that fat and white flour croissants are not the enemy. There is really not a lot of emphasis placed on the City, except that it is a backdrop for Ernest's discoveries. The families live in apartment buildings, climbing numerous stairs to reach their homes. With Victoria, Ernest feels "daring, like an urban hunter, an explorer in his own neighborhood, almost a hero."
But you don't need to love the city, to enjoy Secret Letters from 0 to 10. In fact, I'm not sure how anyone could help but love this book. It would make a great read aloud for kids about ages 6/7 and up, or a read alone for kids ages 9 to 109.
Visit the author's website. Morgenstern lives in France, writes in French, but is originally from Newark(!). She did not do the translation, however.
Read another review (focus on the food!) at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup.
Someone made a very strange little you tube video with Legos for their book report. You will probably only understand it after you read the book.