Reviews for Michael Le Souffle and the April Fool


Booklist Monthly Selections - # 1 April 2003
Gr. 1-3. This slapstick story about the possible origin of April Fools' Day takes place in France, where a happy rooster named Michael Le Souffle plays tricks on the mayor, a grumpy pig named Melon de Plume. The appropriately silly story line culminates when mayor Melon mistakes the king of France, another rooster, for Le Souffle. Oops! The hectic cartoon art is peppered with French terms that won't mean much to most American children, but curious kids can turn to a glossary and find out the meanings of most of the words. Some of the jokes won't resonate (for example, the initials XVI and MA, carved in a heart shape on a tree, humorously refer to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette; a framed portrait of Uncle Jambon [jambon is French for ham] hangs in Melon's house), but there are still a few laughs to go around. It's also good to have something that introduces French for a change. ((Reviewed April 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Fall
This book's plot, involving a rooster town trickster and a messy pig mayor, makes no sense. The mayor creates laws, the rooster breaks them, and the appearance of the king establishes April Fools' Day. Gawky, unpolished cartoons featuring unidentifiable creatures supposed to be gargoyles include French vocabulary words and references to fish and the French Revolution--for no explained reason. Glos. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 February # 3
Welling (Shawn O'Hisser, the Last Snake in Ireland) creates a wordy slapstick comedy from an unfamiliar historical premise: with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1564, the French king (here portrayed as a rooster) proclaimed the start of the new year as January 1 instead of April 1, when it was formerly celebrated. Those who didn't get with the program were taunted as "Poisson d'Avril" or April Fish-the progenitor of today's April Fool. Welling recasts this turn of events as a battle of wits between a regular citizen, prankster rooster Michael Le Souffle, and a pigheaded (literally) mayor named Melon de Plume, sporting medieval garb. When Mayor Melon catches a rooster posting a notice of the calendar change, he begins hurling fish at him from the closest peddler's cart, crying "Your silly jokes have gone too far." But the rooster turns out to be not Michael but the King of France. A caricature of the porcine fellow being pelted with blue and olive-drab fish reveals the punishment decreed by the king. The watercolor-and-ink illustrations bubble with a goofy spontaneity, groan-worthy puns (a sign on a tree reads "Paris fish are in Seine!"), an anachronism or two (a poster of the "Tour de France," begun in 1903, hangs in the mayor's office) and French words (a glossary concludes the book). Unfortunately, Melon's embrace of April 1 comes out of nowhere and the narrative feels labored. Ages 5-8. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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