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Vive La Paris Paperback – 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6–In this companion to Codell's Sahara Special ( Hyperion, 2003), fifth-grader Paris McCray reveals what she has discovered about life in the process of taking piano lessons from Mrs. Rosen, a Holocaust survivor with a sense of humor. The girl's parents; her four older brothers; and the cast of characters from Miss Pointy's class, including best friends Sahara and Luz, keep the proceedings lively. Paris is an explorer of her universe, and words (often italicized) matter to her; her engaging narrative voice is noteworthy for its perseverance, charm, and wit. Her naïveté and, at times, ignorance cause her to make mistakes, but she begins to understand the choices of those around her. Youngest brother Michael's unwillingness to hit a bullying girl back; Mrs. Rosen's gift to her of a yellow star; and the ethical requirements of her own project, the Extreme Readers Club, ask much of Paris, but she is more than up to their challenges. Codell skillfully balances sadness with moments of laughter to keep readers hooked throughout. Touching and funny in equal measure, this short novel addresses innocence, guilt, and atonement and will have an intense impact on readers.–Carol A. Edwards, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Codell's new book, a companion to Sahara Special (2003), is narrated by Sahara's self-confident African American classmate, Paris McCray, who is trying to understand an increasingly confusing world. Paris' gentle older brother is regularly beaten up by her fifth-grade classmate; her piano teacher was once a spy and has numbers tattooed on her arm. Armed with incomplete information, Paris tries to right some wrongs, and Codell lays out the painful results with a blessedly light touch. Addressing such subjects as the Holocaust, bullying, God's presence, and (in a subtle way that will go over many readers' heads) AIDS, the novel makes a convincing case for rose-colored glasses, dancing the can-can, and playing joyful music with your big brother. Codell gives Paris some vivid companions, most notably Mrs. Rosen and brothers Michael and Louis, but the book's star is Paris, who forges past self-doubt to a wider outlook. Here's hoping Codell turns to another of Sahara's classmates for further revelations about a formative age. Abby Nolan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; Reprint edition (2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786851252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786851256
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,321,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kelly Herold on November 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Esmé Raji Codell's "Vive la Paris" is a book that sneaks up on you. What I mean by this is that "Vive la Paris" reads likes a nice, polite, upper Middle Grade novel until two-thirds of way through and then: slam! An unexpected philosophical point--one kids will understand through the protagonist's behavior and its aftermath--takes "Vive la Paris" in surprising directions.

Paris McCray is one busy fifth grader. She heads up a reading program at her school, complete with mimeographed newsletters. She has lots of friends and four older brothers. Music is an important part of her family's life and she takes up piano, studying with an elderly neighbor, Mrs. Rosen. And, of course, Paris has an enemy. Another fifth grader, Tanaeja, likes to beat up Paris' older brother, Michael, which is embarrassing to say the least.

Michael is a charming kid who prefers baking to sports. He's charged with accompanying Paris to her piano lessons and before long he's singing to her music. Both children become close to Mrs. Rosen, a lonely Holocaust survivor who really takes to her young students. When she learns Paris knows nothing, and I mean nothing, of the Holocaust, she feels inspired to show Paris her tattoo and share with her artifacts from her history, including the yellow star.

This is where the novel takes a turn I found so surprising and really new. Paris is a strong narrator. As the youngest child with four older brothers, she's a smart, tough, popular girl. She knows what she wants and says just about anything without fear of retribution. So, when she shows up to school wearing Mrs. Rosen's yellow star on her sleeve, other kids in her class mimeograph yellow stars.
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Format: Hardcover
"VIVE . . . !" is a Salute to 5th grader Paris McCray who enjoys that 'only daughter status' in a black family with four older brothers. Paris is very 'with it' in her Chicago environment but has frequent altercations with a classmate who harasses her, & bullies her brother Michael. He is committed to non-violent responses & "the living is easy" - - NOT !

Challenges, school projects and a fascination with (italicized) words sum up Paris' top interests - - these aren't too different from my own interests when a very naive 5th grader at age 9. Don't most girls wear rose-colored glasses at some point during those pre-teen years? Paris has a new piano teacher who is a Holocaust survivor. Slowly their acquaintance grows into a respectful relationship which includes brother Michael who must endure being 'looked after'. As Paris learns more about Mrs. Rosen's adventures & suffering during WW II she reacts to the former member of the Resistance by wearing a yellow star.

I find this not surprising but a natural response of the generous-spirited girl. She didn't do it as a lark but in innocence, and encouraged her classmates to follow her example. Later, when 'punishment' was meted out, Paris AND her classmates were challenged to learn as much as possible about the victims of the Nazi regime. As Paris learns more about the crushing of Jews in Europe she & her classmates become aware of similarities to our own national history of mean-spirited segregation and racial atrocities. Perhaps I read something into this thought-provoking story that wasn't there but I found it a moving story and a book to own & share.

Esme Raji Codell is a stand-out author for middle-schoolers to 'track'. Was my ignorance at age 9 inexcusable?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Vive La Paris by Esmé Raji Codell is one book every MG classroom across the USA should own by the thirty-pack! It's a perfect companion novel to Sahara Special and a definite must read! Part bullying love story, part history lesson about the Holocaust, it's fully contemporary for the girl who wore the star. Readers wonder if Paris will digest her termoil with heart or resort to bullying her brother's bully when they discover something culminating in the kitchen that earns Codell a standing ovation! Kudos.
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Format: Hardcover
Codell manages to deal with some painful things as Paris takes piano lessons from a Holocaust survivor. Paris is fairly young, and hurts at the bullying her brother receives, but she definitely doesn't understand the seriousness of what she's doing when she wears a gold star as a decoration. How can this be funny? It isn't, but the human condition of learning and atoning for mistakes can be hilarious and Codell mines it with tenderness and care.
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Format: Hardcover
Esme Raji Codell's writing makes you feel good. She has the ear of a teacher who has sat in the back of the classroom and really listened to what matters to young people. She shows the heart in all of her characters, including the ones that you really want to write off.

Vive Le Paris is the companion novel to Sahara Special, which I loved so much. It's fun to check back in on the characters in Miss Pointy's class and see how they've grown under her care. For the most part, though, Paris' story takes place outside of the classroom. She's got a fun, loving family with four older brothers and takes piano lessons from Mrs. Rosen, an elderly Holocaust survivor. Over the course of a few months, she learns about bullying, ignorance, nonviolence, and seeing the world through 'rose-colored glasses'.

There is so much to love here, as a reader and as a teacher.I remember that middle school was when we really delved into learning about World War II. Vive La Paris is geared towards a younger age group, so could be used as an introduction to the Holocaust. It could be read independently over the summer, and then referred back to during the year. This is a novel that kids will love to read, with lots of lessons tucked in.

Vive La Paris is also really funny. In describing her brother's friend, Paris says, "He wears button-down shirts and has glasses like Malcolm X, but he's white, and believe me, on a white boy those glasses got a whole different effect." At first I wanted to say that there are so many humorous throwaway lines, but the reality is that all of the lines are beautifully crafted and intentional.

Finally, I appreciate that the cover actually reflects what happens in the book. There are a lot of details that show the illustrator (whose name I couldn't find) read the novel. She probably loved it too!
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