We’ll Always Have Pop-Ups

Pop-Up Paris, by Andy Mansfield; Lonely Planet Kids, $9.99, 8 pages, ages 3-6.

When readers can’t travel, well-crafted pop-ups offer wonderful opportunities to learn about the world around them. Lonely Planet Kids, an imprint of parent company Lonely Planet, recently launched three children’s pop-up books to coincide with its line of family-friendly tour guides and on-the-go activity books.

The first in the series, Pop-Up Paris, is a charming introduction to six must-see, kid-friendly sites in the City of Light, from the Pompidou Center to a tower of sugary macarons. Short on textual detail, the book is clearly geared towards a pre-k through first grade readership, providing a snippet of information to inspire children to learn more about the topic at hand. Hyper-pigmented illustrations, bordering on neon, are hip without pretense. In short, this is a book that knows it’s fun.

Easy to tote, easy to read, the Lonely Planet Kids Pop-Ups series has found a way to hook young explorers on the richness of traveling, even from the comfort of home.

Check out a 30-second video highlighting all three titles here.

Paris dans mon cœur

How do adults address this weekend’s carnage in Paris? (Do we?) How much information have our youngest ones already heard, and how much of it do they actually understand? Forbes magazine, France 24, and plenty of other outlets are devoting columns to the topic, where the general consensus among psychologists is not to discuss it (or any other such atrocities) with children under age six. Children attending elementary school will likely hear rumors on the playground or teachers discussing it in class, and parents should prepare for a conversation. In light of media over-saturation, parents will find themselves decoding and filtering information, and should avoid projecting their own anxieties and fears. Easier said than done, but providing reassurance is crucial. It is so easy for a child to see traumatizing images without context, and the images coming out of Paris are frightening–places children visit, like soccer stadiums and restaurants, have been turned into scenes of devastation and death. Parents and educators must be willing to “prendre la relève” or take up the burden, of providing strength and love in such uncertain times.

But for the littlest ones, why not spark a lifelong love for this beautiful city and its people by offering them The Story of Diva and Flea, by power-duo Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi (Hyperion Press; $14.99, October 2015). It’s a story about an unexpected friendship, but at it’s core, this is a love song to Paris. Willems realized a lifelong dream of living in the city while writing the book, and DiTerlizzi’s illustrations remind us that the people, places, and creatures of Paris are beautiful, strong, and resilient. Vive Paris. 

My Secret Guide to Paris, by Lisa Schroeder; Scholastic Press, $16.99, 216 pages, ages 10-13.

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower, written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli; Viking Juvenile $17.99, 48 pages, ages 5-9.

With the snow slowly melting here on the East Coast our thoughts suddenly turn to Paris in the springtime, and these two titles are just the thing to tap into that certain je ne sais quoi that captivates visitors to the City of Light. Lisa Schroeder’s My Secret Guide to Paris is an effervescent story about a young girl who adores everything about Paris. Even though Nora has never actually visited the city, she falls in love with it by listening to her grandmother’s tales of the Eiffel Tower and chocolat chaud. Just before they are set to visit Paris together, grand-mere passes away, leaving behind a sort of scavenger hunt for Nora, who, in the process of uncovering her grandmother’s mysteries, also learns how to heal her grief. Lifelong Francophiles will adore sharing this sweet romp with young readers, and the sprinkling of mots français throughout lends just the right air of authenticity.  

Meanwhile, Greg Pizzoli’s uproariously true story about master con-man Robert Miller will fascinate  readers from start to finish. At a surprisingly hefty forty-eight pages, Tricky Vic stands out from the standard picture-book fare, (most offerings meet the industry standard 32 pages) but that shouldn’t deter interested parties; every page is full of bold, retro-graphic style illustrations accompanied by a story as wild as it is factual. In 1925, the Eiffel Tower was, at the grand old age of thirty-six, already in a state of disrepair and exceedingly unpopular among Parisians. Enter Robert Miller, aka “Count Victor Lustig”, aka “Tricky Vic,” a lifelong con man who made his living defrauding aristocrats through cardgamess and selling fake counterfeit money-making machines. He even managed to con Al Capone as way to gain the mobster’s trust. Miller’s biggest score was tricking a French scrap metal dealer into buying the Iron Lady. Would you believe he even tried to sell the Eiffel Tower twice?  What child wouldn’t want to read about someone this delightfully despicable, someone who so fully embodies the meaning of the word chutzpah?