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The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Freres (Winner ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award - Bronze Medal) Hardcover – April 15, 2006
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I have also had brief contact with the auther and she is absolutely wonderful!
Written and Illustrated by: Marie LeTourneau
I received an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Such a charming book - I cannot recommend it highly enough!
The story is set in the Bistrot des Sept Freres, a mouse Parisian cafe which is famous for its award winning cheese soup. It is run by Chef Marcel and his seven sons (of the cafe name). Each day they recite the ingredients in the soup and finish up by saying, "... and the secret ingredient." There is also a daughter, "petite Michelle". She loves to dance and helps out here and there. She is not included in the name of the cafe! This year, when the judge for the cheese soup announces his arrival time, Chef Marcel realizes that he is out of the secret ingredient. Mayhem ensues. While Chef Marcel runs out to get the ingredient, the seven sons pull together the rest of the soup (cheese, broth, etc,). All throughout the confusion and disorder, Michelle has been calmly setting out eggs, and folding napkins. Oh no, the deadline is approaching and Dad hasn't returned, what to do? Petite Michelle dances in and calmly adds salt, rosemary,and six drops of hot pepper sauce. Spoiler alert - the judge loves the soup and the cafe's reputation is saved! At the end of the book, Chef Marcel adds "et une Soeur" (and a sister)! Perfect!
I loved too the French lesson gently inserted throughout the book. At the beginning is a list of pronunciations for the French words (no English translations). Then, as you read, the French phrases occur organically in the story followed by an English translation
I loved, loved these pictures. They so beautifully illustrated and enhanced the story. I especially loved the open windows with scenes of Paris in rich, full color. The illustrator used color so effectively. The scenes had black and white components mixed with color. For instance, the mouse was in black and white but his coat was a mossy green. The kitchen would be black and white with petite Michelle dancing around performing culinary magic in color. The mice were adorably human-like. There is a scene set in the cafe (pre-cheese soup inspection) that warrants close inspection of each character. They are individually recognizable characters.
Ms. LeTourneau's website is pretty interesting. She has written and illustrated a few other books which looked equally interesting and certainly worth reading. She also has award winning stationery for sale through ETSY.
At the end of the book, the author provides a link for her cheese soup recipe. This link takes you to the site of the wonderful Tanglewood Publishing House. Their focus is on kids from board books to Young Adult. I found there the endearing "Kissing Hand" books and a new book I've been interested in reading (YA section) "Surviving the Angel of Death". They also carry Ms. LeTourneau's new book, "Argyle Fox" which launches March 26. At their website they say, "in every Tanglewood book readers will find a sense of comfort that comes with being seen and understood." You definitely get that message in "The Mice of Bistrot ...".
Such a wonderful book! Your kids will love it and so will you.
The book tells the tale of mice Chef Marcel and his 7 mice sons and his petite mouse daughter. Chef Marcel makes the best cheese soup in all of France. But one day just before he is to be judged on his soup he runs of the secret ingredient that only he knows. Panic ensues and Chef Marcel leaves it to his sons to start making the soup while he runs to find the secret ingredient. Everyone is in a panic except for his sweet petite daughter who is nothing but calm. Will Chef Marcel return in time to finish making his famous soup?
When I first requested this book (way back when) I had intended to read it to my son. But when I looked at it back then I knew it was still too advanced for him. Back then he could only handle books with one line per page. But I was delighted when I went back to read this that it was perfect for him now. My son loved this book. His favorite parts were when the mice would bump into each other causing food to fly everywhere.
The drawings were so perfect. Soft colors and gorgeous to look at scenes. This will definitely be read again in this house.
5 out of 5 stars!
*I received a free copy of this ebook from Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion
**This book was read with my special needs son who is severely learning disabled. The review reflects not only my opinion but his as well