Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Boy Stuff

Reading Nicholas, by author Rene Goscinny and illustrator Jean-Jacques Sempe, is the most fun I've had in a while. Accompanied by hilarious pen and ink illustrations, Nicholas is a simple book of stories about a little boy growing up in France in the 1950s. Little Nicholas narrates in an innocent, run-on manner, and the humor is best appreciated by adults who sympathize with harried parents and teachers. Nicholas cheerfully relates his adventures, each of which ends in a fight and a mess, thereby making it that much more fun. For example, in one chapter all the little boys attempt to play cowboys and indians but spend the entire time arguing and whacking each other, and Nicholas, as always, comments that it was a fabulous time. It's what little boys are like (and occasionally dads and little girls too).

There's a charming cast including Nicholas's mother and father, Cuthbert (who is top of the class and teacher's pet and wears glasses so they can't whack him so much), Old Spuds (the grumpiest of the teachers), Mr. Billings (the neighbor and Nicholas's father's arch enemy), Alec (Nicholas's friend who is fat and eats all the time), and the rest of Nicholas's gang.

I've requested every other Nicholas book that I can find translated in our library system. I can't wait to read them! They remind me of The Magic Pudding author Norman Lindsey's theory that children are only interested in two things: fighting and eating.

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