Will the young engineer Eiffel save his pretty wife from slipping into oblivion?
“Eiffel is a happy engineer / young, successful, and in love. / The prettiest girl in Paris is his wife. / Her name is Cathy, and she has a thirst for life.” Early in the simple tale, Cathy becomes mysteriously ill, and Eiffel works feverishly to create her desire: “Cathy tries to laugh and tells Eiffel with a wink / ‘You could build us a railway / that takes us up to the clouds in a blink.’ ” The internal rhymes and graceful, syncopated rhythm are the proper match for exuberant, quirky line drawings, accented sparingly with the color pink. The people in the book—including the beloved couple—are depicted with large, oval heads atop tiny, slender bodies that sport carefully detailed clothing. The aerial views of Paris include hundreds of tiny rooftops and windows, with comical birds in the sky and complementary fish in the Seine. Appropriate for an engineer’s story, art and layout make wonderful use of grids as well as numerous, varying angles and viewpoints, including a double-page spread of the eponymous tower, which requires a 90-degree rotation to view properly. The artwork and text combine to create a delightful fairy tale that, alas, has little basis in reality: Eiffel’s 15-year marriage ended when his Marguerite died of pneumonia, 10 years before completion of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a pity there is no note that helps readers clarify this conflict.
Pure joie de vivre but a bit less joie de vérité. (Picture book. 3-7)