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BONJOUR, LONNIE by Faith Ringgold


by Faith Ringgold, illustrated by Faith Ringgold

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-7868-0076-3
Publisher: Hyperion

 Lush, deeply imagined paintings can't quite carry the didactic storyline in this tale from the creator of My Dream of Martin Luther King (1995). Lonnie, an orphaned African-American boy with the red hair and green eyes of his mixed heritage, is transported back to Paris during the first world war by l'Oiseau d'Amour--the Love Bird. This magical creature shows him how his grandfather of the 369th infantry, the ``Harlem Hell Fighters,'' met his red-haired French grandmother; and how their son, Lonnie's father, died in WW II. Claudine, his green-eyed, Jewish mother, was lost to the Nazis and Lonnie was smuggled away. The spirits of his ancestors--with connections to the Harlem Renaissance, the black Parisian community, and the French Resistance, among others--fade away, leaving Lonnie no longer orphaned but with loving stepparents (first met in Ringgold's Dinner at Aunt Connie's House, 1993). Ringgold's acrylic paintings will tug at anyone who has seen--or wants to see--Paris; their intense colors, stylized figures, and beautiful use of pattern draw the viewers in again and again. The complicated, though well-intentioned, story, with its layers of history and magical realism, may elude younger readers and leave older ones confused. (glossary, bibliography) (Picture book. 6-10)