Two friends take a break from exploring to have a big snack in this story told in a mixture of English and French.
“Paul and Pierre are great explorers. Ils sont aussi des amis. Friends and explorers.” Instead of presenting a bilingual story with line-by-line translation, this book alternates entire sentences in each language for a unique structure that keeps readers on their toes. When Paul gets hungry, they leave their (imagined) Himalayan trek to see what’s in Pierre’s kitchen, where they begin stacking all sorts of ingredients into a tall sandwich: “Ham, cheese, mayonnaise. Du beurre, de la laitue, un concombre.” Between the illustrations and the English clues, English-speaking readers are bound to pick up a few words and phrases in French, but only the very curious will be up for the multiple readings that will truly bear fruit in that regard. Paul, a pale boy with red hair and freckles, speaks English, while Pierre and his mother, both black, speak French—but all characters understand one another. The childlike illustrations combine the boys’ imaginations with their real world: The sandwich becomes a mountain, which finally topples in the titular avalanche, becoming Paul’s least favorite meal (salad!). While the correspondence between pictured items and their words is not always perfectly obvious, the goal here prioritizes fun over explicit instruction.
Very silly and very smart, this distinctive find is worth checking out. (Picture book. 4-9)