One of my favorite series to recommend to, well, to anyone really, but especially to moms who lament the reluctant readers (ie sons) in their lives ISN’T Diary of a Wimpy Kid (though I love those too). It’s the Nicholas books by René Goscinny, illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempé. They are comedic genius, from end paper to end paper, though they’re about little more than little boys making big trouble, wearing little shorts, punching each other in the nose, and then crying about it. Then punching someone in the nose again and crying about it. Again. But it’s funny every time, I swear. They’re great books to read with someone, and great books to read to yourself when you need a pick-me-up. They are pretty much a shot of straight-up sunshine, if you ask me. Which is why I’m such a proud member of da club:
Unfortunately, the first book in the series wasn’t available (at least not at B&N. Feign surprise.) for a short stint. That didn’t really put a snag in my suggestions though because, fortunately, you can read the series in any order. You can even read the chapters in any order, if you like; they’re very episodic and can certainly serve as stand alone short stories (similiar to one of my other favorite series — The Arabel & Mortimer books by Joan Aiken — but that’s another blog post in itself). While it puts a little crack in my heart to know that Phaidon’s gorgeous cloth-bound edition is no longer in print, a more affordable (and still very attractive) paperback is finally available in English.
Ben, wonder fiancé and downloader of all things I require, discovered that a movie, Le Petit Nicolas (see the French teaser trailer here, though I imagine it is only amusing if you have a familiarity with either the books or the French language), had been released in 2009. And so he spent days downloading what I assume must be the largest file the world has ever known. AND THEN WE WATCHED IT.
I think my favorite part was actually the opening credits. That isn’t a slight about the movie itself, just a comment on how impressive the credits were. Sempe’s original illustrations are animated to make the story unfold like a pop-up book. It’s a really playful yet sleek. Only after wasting time taking screen captures did it occur to me that, oh yeah, YouTube exists. So you can watch the animated credits in their entirety here. Or you can just scroll down and get the gist (though I really do recommend the video).
The film itself was… gorgeous. The sets and costumes were as immaculate, albeit less quirky, than what you’d find in a Wes Anderson film. A really fine attention to detail on every level. While I found Nicolas/Nicholas himself to be more somber than the books suggest, the boys as a collective were just as mischievous, aloof, and hilarious as you’d hope. (Ben must have laughed out loud fifteen times throughout). Have a looksee:
All images copyright Fidélité Films! C’est Chouette!