A FRENCH ABC by Francine Legrand Dauphin


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I have very mixed feelings about this book. The idea is such a good one- the format is so enchanting- that I'd like to recommend it whole-heartedly. But the execution of the idea leaves a good deal to be desired. Originally, the author-artist -- while working in England during the war, planned this book as a medium for linking English and French children together. She hoped through pictures showing child activities characteristically French to give children of other lands a sense of knowing French children like themselves. To this end the pictures- in gay spot drawings and full pages, show a child sweeping a room, running through the field, upsetting things generally, trying to tempt the squirrel, consuming cake, failing in a history lesson, making up a story, reading a newspaper, walking down a snowy road, washing clothes, playing a toy piano, organizing a bird orchestra, posing her doll for a picture, going to the store, sitting in the garden, reading, making a racket, playing with pets and pans, writing on a wall, climbing aboard a train, going visiting. Some of the pictures are beguiling in their very remoteness from an American child's ideas of work or play; others seem remote from any child's ideas; all of them are engagingly naive in the directness of drawing and color. But the text- both in captions under the big pictures, and the individual words accompanying the letters on the opposite pages -- include so many words wholly outside the alphabet book age level, that one wonders why the author allowed herself to be so readily satisfied with words simply on the level of identification with the letter, rather than with common usage and understanding. The book may capture attention on its appearance- on the extensive promotion and advertising. But it wont go far towards bringing the French language to life for the American child. Should be used by discriminating adults.

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 1947
Publisher: Coward, McCann