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Adele & Simon

Last updated Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Author: Barbara McClintock
Date of Publication: 2006
ISBN: 0374380449
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2007

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: When Adèle meets her younger brother after school, she cautions him not to lose anything on the way home. The children take a leisurely route, visiting friends, a street market, a park, and two museums. Predictably, Simon leaves an item (his drawing, hat, knapsack, glove) behind at each location. Set in Paris during the early 20th century, this simple story is the basis for some remarkable illustrations. McClintock's pen-and-ink with watercolor technique has the feel of illustrated children's books from that period. The retro effect is accented by an old-fashioned typeface, creamy paper, and wide borders around the spreads. The children's route is traced on the endpapers–a map of Paris from 1907. Each stop is based on a real place, some immediately recognizable, such as the Louvre and Notre-Dame. McClintock's research is described in wonderfully detailed endnotes. For example, in the picture of the bustling street market, the groupings of people are based on works by Honoré Daumier and Eugène Atget. In the Louvre, Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt help Simon find his crayons. Readers will enjoy the visual game of hide-and-seek; the more they look, the more they can find. A beautiful example of bookmaking, with plenty to charm children, this is a visual delight.

Note to readers:
•  In every picture you will find Adele and Simon and the missing item. For example, in the marketplace drawing, Adele and Simon are on the left page talking to Madame Biscuit, the grocer, who has an apple in her hand. Simon’s missing kitten drawing is on the right page in the bottom corner near the tree trunk. In the park, Adele and Simon are on the right page and the missing books on the left page on the ground above the woman holding the baby (note the school girls from the Madeline stories walking in the park). As a fun activity, have the kids find Adele and Simon and the missing items (the missing items are sometimes hard to spot). The end pages describing the scenes drawn are very interesting and informative but may be too advanced for our 1st graders.
•  Vocabulary words: scolded, knapsack, tugged, fossils, Monsieur, shrugged, interrupted, shrubs, eclairs.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Looking at the cover, who is Adele and who is Simon?
•  Is it cold where they are? Do you wear this type of clothing?
•  Does this story take place now or in the past? How can you tell? (hint: clothing, horse and carriage, market place….)

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you have any older brothers or sisters who help take care of you? Do you walk home from school with them? Do you play with them after school?
•  Simon is always losing things! Have you ever lost anything? Were you able to find it? Did someone help you look for it?
•  How do you think Adele felt when Simon kept losing his things? Was she angry? Frustrated? Even though she was upset, did she forgive Simon? How do you know?

Craft ideas:
•  Create a Picture Find: Have the kids draw their favorite place (park, circus, zoo, store, school….) for the background using lots of detail. Next have them draw themselves, their friends, pets or objects hiding in the picture.
•  Draw a picture of your pet like Simon did and/or draw a picture of the art paintings like Simon did in the book.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!