Dreamer Seraphin finds difficulty working and living in modern-day Paris.
After he’s fired from his job at the Metro, he lingers in the “sun-filled streets” and “parks resonant with birdsong.” Back home, Seraphin finds a letter: He’s inherited a crumbling mansion! A jovial narrator guides readers through this meandering story, Nicholson-Smith’s conversational translation retaining Gallic eloquence. English-speaking readers will marvel at lithe turns of phrase: The “strange, harsh words” of the men who evict him to make way for new development “wounded him like so many poison arrows.” Readers will also fall under the spell of Fix’s inexhaustible imagination, transferred onto the page as immense, richly detailed, golden-hued watercolor-and-ink illustrations. Only older readers could consume the entire narrative start to finish in one sitting, however, and many might find Seraphin, a middle-aged, pale-skinned innocent whose only friends are a round boy named Plume and a pet hamster called Hercules, a bit bizarre. Christian culture casts seraphim as angels associated with purity and light, and while Seraphin is similarly guileless and radiant, he also seems somewhat strange, making rounds with a peddler’s cart of toys—inventions to attract and entice a group of exclusively white children.
A gorgeous but elusive import. (Picture book. 8-12)