Honestly, except for the fact that the illustrations looked fantastic, I didn't think I would like this book. I mean, a book about farm animals taking a trip to Paris? I was worried it would be trite. But then the premise of many a children's book can seem silly on paper.
But I did like Catherine Stock's A Spree in Paree, perhaps because Stock wholeheartedly embraces the silliness of farm animals loose in the city. Every summer on their farm, Monsieur Monmouton and his gaggle of animals host children and families from Paris. The farmer wonders if he should visit Paris but who will look after the animals? The obvious solution is to bring them along. Eh Bien. In the city, the geese love the bateau mouche, the sheep ogle the fashions, and the chickens cackle at the can can dancers. It is a tiring, but enjoyable trip and when everyone returns to the farm they are already planning their next getaway...
Stock's watercolors do not fail to illustrate the requisite Parisian landmarks, but their appeal lies in the amusing antics of the farm animals and their overwhelmed farmer. The absurd chaos of the animals running loose in the big city is set up in contrast to the bucolic scenes in the country in a way that cannot fail to charm the reader.
Read Adam Gopnik's intriguing review (and about children's books set in Paris in general) from The New York Times Book Review.
For the further farmyard adventures read A Porc in New York.
Visit the author's website.
Big Kid says: Why is it called a bateau mouche?
Little Kid says: Red Truck!