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Includes an author's note with historical information about French boxing and electric cars.
"A bona fide knockout. C'est formidable " "Publishers Weekly, "Starred"
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-03-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Lalouche does not start out mighty in the least. A humble postman in 19th-century Paris, “He was small, Lalouche, and rather bony,” writes Olshan (Finn), whose effortless prose has a giddy Gallic lilt throughout. And yet, Lalouche’s “hands were nimble, his legs were fast, and his arms were strong,” qualities that serve him well when he is replaced on his route by an electric autocar and instead finds employment as sparring partner at the Bastille Boxing Club. Soon, the wiry, speedy Lalouche is a boxing champion and the toast of tout-Paris, vanquishing such deliciously named foes as the Anaconda, the Pointillist, and the Misanthrope. It’s easy to imagine a book about an unprepossessing civil servant and the belle epoque craze for la boxe française as having a rarified appeal at best, but Olshan and Blackall (Edwin Speaks Up) have created a bona fide knockout. Lalouche is an endearingly oddball hero, and Blackall takes her always-exquisite ink-and-watercolor artwork to another level, creating three-dimensional cut-out scenes that have the intensity of silent film and the magic of an exquisitely crafted toy theater. C’est formidable! Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Nancy Gallt, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (May)
A knockout picture book? Oui, oui!
Move over, Madeline—there’s a new Parisian picture-book character to adore in Matthew Olshan’s unusual story, The Mighty Lalouche. At the turn of the 20th century lives a humble postman named Lalouche. Although he’s small and “rather bony,” his hands are nimble, his legs are fast, and his arms are strong. This pint-sized postman has much to love—his pet finch, a room along the Seine (even though it lacks a view) and his handlebar mustache. But when a fleet of electric autocars replaces the mail carrier, Lalouche fears he’ll lose everything he has.
Refusing to give up, he applies for an advertised boxing position. Such hulky champions as the Piston and the Grecque simply laugh at Lalouche and prepare to pulverize him. With her layered ink and watercolor artwork, Sophie Blackall, the talented illustrator of the Ivy + Bean series, creates a 3-D effect that exaggerates the size of the French boxers and Lalouche’s unthinkable matches against them. The endpapers sport funny trading cards of these outlandish athletes.
Using the speed and agility he developed as a postman, Lalouche beats his challengers one by one, even the Anaconda. Although undefeated as a boxer, he knows he must return to his true passion—delivering the mail.
Lalouche proves that true might comes from determination. A new room with a view of the Seine, and even a nook for his beloved finch, is all the reward he needs. This winning tale, c’est magnifique!