Thursday, August 28, 2008

Adele & Simon in America by Barbara McClintock - review

Adele & Simon in America by Barbara McClintock
Why did they do this to Barbara McClintock? I mean, what, Adele & Simon wasn't enough of an "instant classic" (New York Times Book Review)? "Delightful" (Kirkus) wasn't enough of a payday for Farrar, Straus? Why the... HECK (yes, I'm rolling out the strong language) would they take Barbara McClintock's super-detailed, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper-style giant illustrations, and print them at anything less than full bleed?

Adele & Simon in America sends our favorite 19th century Parisian kids on a trip across America, where the ever-absentminded Simon proceeds to lose all of his accoutrements... he leaves his bandanna in Chinatown, his cowboy hat in Boston, and his pocketknife in Texas... just as he lost everthing that wasn't attached to him on his way home from school in Paris. Those with sharp eyes were able to find his lost objects in the prior book, but with these pictures so shrunk down, finding a pocketknife amid the Texas sage is very difficult.

Besides! They're beautiful, interesting pictures, drawn with love and affection, and with well-researched tiny bonuses for those who read the endnotes - the Roosevelt family and their pets are in the crowd in front of the Capitol, Al Hirschfeld and Mark Twain board a steamboat with the children and their aunt. It's such a shame to give them such a scaled-down, everyday presentation.

Endpaper bonus: Credit where credit is due. The author found a gorgeous railway map in the collection of the Library of Congress and uses it as a key to the children's travels.

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