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Bonjour, Lonnie Hardcover – September 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this fantastical, sweeping picture book, Ringgold reintroduces a character from Dinner at Aunt Connie's in order to chronicle some pivotal moments in African American history. Shown here in an earlier phase, Lonnie is living in a Paris orphanage. He is visited one night by a magical Love Bird who inspires him to "look everywhere" for his loved ones. On his surreal search, Lonnie combs the streets and sights of Paris, even speaking to the Mona Lisa inside the Louvre. The journey changes course when Lonnie encounters the spirits of his deceased grandparents and parents. They explain both Lonnie's mixed racial heritage and, more broadly, black Americans' contributions to the arts (e.g., the Harlem Renaissance) and to the Allies' victories in the two World Wars. With an emphasis on acceptance and love, Ringgold's text illustrates that families can come in all kinds of configurations. In her dense acrylic paintings, Ringgold refrains from literalism, effectively depicting such difficult subject matter as violence and even death with slightly abstract perspectives. This meaty volume invites repeated examination and will hold special appeal for African Americans and children in adoptive and/or mixed-race families. As a bonus, French phrases and their English translations are sprinkled throughout, and a short glossary of historical figures and movements appears at the end. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4?This unusual story involves Lonnie, the red-haired, green-eyed boy introduced in Ringgold's Dinner at Aunt Connie's House (Hyperion, 1993). He pursues an elusive "Love Bird" around Paris until it leads him to a dreamlike place where he learns his family's history and how he came to be orphaned. Lonnie meets his African-American grandfather, who expatriated to Paris in the 1920s; his French grandmother; his soldier father, who was killed in World War II; and his Jewish mother, who died in the Holocaust. Lonnie is told that he was smuggled to the U.S. by an African-American student. Though he wants to stay with his family, they convince him to return to the "real world," and the magical Love Bird transports him to his adoptive parents. The Love Bird is a somewhat awkward device but it helps bridge the fantasy and realism in the story. The artwork, similar in style to that of Ringgold's earlier books, also incorporates elements of fantasy and realism. The artist shows strong positive images of whites and blacks together and makes children aware that both Jews and African Americans have endured prejudice. However, because many issues and historical references are touched upon but not fully explained, youngsters may be left with many unanswered questions. While not totally successful as a story, this unique book focuses on aspects of history that are not commonly covered for this audience.?Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 710L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786800763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786800766
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 10.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,896,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Faith Ringgold was born in Harlem in 1930. She received a degree in art education from the City College of New York and was an art teacher long before she became a professional artist. She is best known for her 'painted story quilts,' some of which hang in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Tar Beach, RinggoldÕs first book for children, won the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration and was named a Caldecott Honor Book. Ringgold is now a professor of art at the University of California at San Diego. She lives in California and in New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on June 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This work is truly a piece of art on so many levels. The story is wonderful (if a bit hard to follow - it needs several readings) and the art work is beyond question of the highest quality. As an adult, I enjoyed this one from cover to cover. The subject of mulitculturalism is addressed in a wonderful and pragmatic way. There is of course an element of magic here, and it is delightfully done. On the other hand...I am just not sure at what age the child should be when I would feel comfortable reading it to them. Parts of this book are very, very dark, real, but dark. I am not sure I want to explain the holocaust, war time romances, etc. to a class of second or third graders. There is much here that would be quite over the head of even older children. I would have been quite comfortable discussing and reading this with my children when they were quite young, but then they already knew much that was addressed in this story. Not every kid does. There are parts of this book that are quite disturbing and other parts that are quite sweet. I do agree with another reviewer who was glad there were books like this that actually had some meat to them, and did not avoid unpleasing subjects. On the other hand, I agree with yet another reviewer that caution should be taken when reading this to a child. I suggest you know the child. This is another of those books which should force parents to be parents and have them make some dicision for their kids when the kids are too you to make their own. I do give this book five stars as it is one of the best done books in this genre that I have read for some time now. I am just not sure it is for everyone. I think I would give this one a read before I read it to my kid.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Roucher on April 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Bonjour Lonnie by Faith Ringgold is a fable based in realism, filled with the beautifully imaginative images of the artist and author. Lonnie is an orphan who follows a magical Love Bird to Paris, where he discovers his family history. He finds out that he is African American, French and Jewish and that his life mirrors some of the most significant events of the 20th century. His heritage has been molded by the World War I Harlem Hell Fighters Troop, the Harlem Renaissance, the African American experience in Paris, the Holocaust and an escape to America. Readers will be happy to follow Lonnie's adventures to a home and family of his own.
This book is unique in that it weaves serious content into a children's book in a most appropriate way. Important issues are presented for children to consider, question and explore with the guidance of parents and teachers. How refreshing it is to find a book that is not afraid to include "real life" content. Today's students are multi-racial, multi -lingual and certainly multi-cultural. It's high time that our children can enjoy and be challenged by a book like Bonjour Lonnie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wordsmith on May 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Shugar's book is divided into three sections. The first section is "The Development of Separatist Theory and Ideologies of Female Community". The second is titled "Narratives of Separatist Collectives and Problems of Community" with an introduction, "Separatist Collective Endeavors". The third section is titled "Separatist Utopian Literature and the Re-vision of Community" with an introduction called "Fantasy and Revolution".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some of this book's reviewers feel like Bonjour, Lonnie is completely inappropriate for younger children, but the Amazon recommendation says 7+ years, and I would agree with that guideline for most children. Obviously every child develops at her own rate and parents and teachers should be sensitive to the needs of the children they read to. The book does touch on more serious themes than most picture books, such as the Holocaust, racism, and World War II, but it does not contain disturbing images and does not go into great detail about the atrocities committed during the war. It will be up to you as a parent or teacher to give the child as much background information as you think is appropriate. I like how the book introduces the multi-racial theme. It can be hard to find good books to teach about this issue, and many children today have a mixed heritage.
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Donnelly on January 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is extremely DARK.
While I absolutely LOVE multi-cultural books and am raising my daughter with cultural and racial awareness and sensitivity, I cannot recommend this book AT ALL. I picked it up, as I liked the title and thought my daughter would like to hear/read a children's story from France.
Unfortunately, this is one of the worst books I have ever seen. I feel compelled to warn others about it. While it does indeed delve into cultural diversity, it goes WAY TOO FAR! It talks about World War I and II, using adult words, such as "renaissance", "nazi", "infantry", and "exterminated". And, do you really think the subject of jews being exterminated is an appropriate topic for children, ages 4 - 9? Or illustrations of soldiers holding jews at gunpoint? NOT!
And, an editorial side note (I'm an editor), the story hops around from city to city (Paris, Vienna, Champagne, Harlem, Germany, etc.) and it's hard for young children to understand the difference of these places, unless they have been there themselves. There were WAY too many details for children of those ages to follow and understand.
It's just an absolutely APPALLING book. What a shame; the writer had a good idea but went on to create a literary disaster with it.
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