A Fair Trade Book (? ???)
Title: Thomas Face-de-Rat et Amelie Melasse
Publisher: L’Ecole des Loisirs
Length: 54 pages
Illustrations: drawings by Mette Ivers
Quote: “Mais le pire, c’etait qu’il y avait aussi une petite fille dans la voiture.”
This is primarily a picture book for French-speaking children up to about age eight. It’s simply told, with plenty of illustrations, so it an be understood by students during their first or second year of French classes.
Readers over age eight will guess where the plot’s going. Thomas didn’t want his ninety-year-old neighbor to die; he didn’t want other people to move into her house; worst of all, the new neighbors included a girl his age. Naturally, the children will tease and annoy each other. Naturally, they will become friends.
For the benefit of older readers, however, there is a discreetly narrated adult romance in the background. In case any older readers want to be entertained with a tiny hint of suspense, I won’t describe this element of the plot further.
Moka offers students a few new words that may not be found in first-year French glossaries: bisous-bisous, teckel, sans-gene, pivoines, cadenas. Students can follow the text while guessing these words, but if they’ve not done so already they should probably let this book motivate them to buy a good French dictionary.
Top students in first-year French classes, and average students in second-year French classes, are likely to find this a fun read.
However, I'm in a peculiar situation with this book. Picture books sometimes have short lives, French books aren't always marketed in the U.S., and it's beginning to look as if the copy of Thomas Face-de-Rat et Amelie Melasse that I had (and have sold) may have been the only one sold in this country. (This happens, because U.S. State Department employees organize annual bazaars where they often sell unique copies of things not published in the U.S.) So I've traced and e-mailed the author, but as of today I can't say whether I can actually sell Thomas Face-de-Rat or not! Ridiculous situation for a bookseller to get into. Actually there are other online sources besides Amazon, if anyone out there wants this book; having to go to them merely means higher prices.
Here, meanwhile, is an Amazon link you can use to buy one of the author's newer, more widely distributed books.
(Moka promptly and courteously replied to my e-mail, explaining that Thomas Face-de-Rat et Amelie Melasse has been out of print for years. Some writers don't mind if their early books go out of print, especially if they're doing well with more recent books...anyway, I've found a certified Nice Writer and added the Kinra Girls series, which I've not yet seen in real life, to my Amazon Wish List.)