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Stories 1,2,3,4 Hardcover – September 11, 2012
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*Starred Review* Originally published overseas piecemeal across the sixties and seventies, this droll work is all you could hope for from Ionesco, one of the fathers of the Theatre of the Absurd. In a quartet of zigzagging stories told by a father to his “thirty-three months old” daughter, Josette, Ionesco tips his hat to idle, everyday imagination by casually conjuring ideas without pausing to analyze or celebrate the endeavor. The first story features a family with a naming issue: “One day little Jacqueline went to the Bois de Boulogne with her father Jacqueline, her brother Jacqueline, and her mother Jacqueline.” The riff extends, and eventually ends, but like any fine absurdist notion, it’s a wonderfully preposterous head-scratcher. Later stories swap words (“This is not a telephone. . . . It’s called a cheese”), shrink the duo into an airplane that tours the house, and have Josette searching for a tiny clone of her father, which he assures her is under the table. Delessert’s plentiful illustrations feel plucked from Yellow Submarine: rainbows emitting from mouths, flowers sprouting heads, and other such psychedelic nonsense. The result feels like the inspired musing of a lazy afternoon, where silliness and reality mix (the father can’t eat the moon because of his diabetes). A child’s mind has been successfully tapped; take a look at what came out. Grades 1-3. --Daniel Kraus
"Newly translated by Delessert from the 2009 French edition, this gathering also features the first appearance of his illustrations paired to any English version of Story 3 and Story 4. Each tale starts in the same waylittle Josette coaxes an early morning flight of fancy from her father, who in three of the four is bleary from a long night on the townbut then veers off in increasingly elaborate directions. By the final one, he is repeatedly sending her to look” for him in various rooms of the apartment while he shaves and dresses in the bathroom. Delessert’s crowded, detail-rich pictures add period elements (a dial telephone, a yellow submarine with visible Beatle) to surreal assemblages of toys, plush and fantasy animals, red-capped mushrooms, psychedelic flowers and cozy close-up scenes of Josette with Papa and (more occasionally, as she is generally elsewhere until the very end) Mama.
Handsomely designed, more silly than existentially absurd” and just the ticket for sharing on a parental lap."Kirkus
"Fresh as ever."Publishers Weekly
"Some of the best children's books have an element of absurdity to them, whether in the story telling or the strange pictures that accompany them. This collection has a fantastic amount of both."Apartment Therapy
"Originally published overseas piecemeal across the sixties and seventies, this droll work is all you could hope for from Ionesco"Daniel Kraus, Booklist (Starred Review)
"Four stories are devoted to exchanges between a small girl and her parents (and sometimes a maid) as she wakens them each morning hungry for a story. A third-person narrator clues readers in that Mama and Papa have been out late the night before, and that the father has most likely overindulged in food, beverage, and entertainment, but the richness of the text lies within his stories. The tales range from the absurd (a child’s name is Jacqueline, as is everyone’s name in her family as well as all whom she meets), to the renaming of all objects in the house, and a highly imaginative father/daughter flight on an airplane. The closing story is a cheeky pseudo-game of hide-and-seek where Papa encourages his daughter to find” him as he bellows clues to his whereabouts from the bathroom as he prepares for the day. Stunningly illustrated, this collection is a visual feast. Young children will linger over pages full of animals, artifacts, even a lunar landscape. The stories may, at first glance, seem absurd, but to imaginative children, they make perfect sense. The dialogue between the girl and the adults in her life is spot-on silliness and will resonate with those who are young and those who remember being young. Perfect for lap sharing, albeit a bit heavy, this book will keep them engaged for hours."C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY, School Library Journal
"This is no ordinary kiddie book!"Smithsonian's Book Dragon
Top customer reviews
A note on translation. I think Ionescu wrote this in French originally. The English translation is great, but translations always lose a bit in the process, especially when the style of the language is as important as the words themselves. I also own the Romanian version and I find it slightly better than the English. Even so, I enjoy reading both to my child. As a matter of fact, I think I'll go read it to her right now.