After reading and enjoying Karen McManus’s first book One Of Us Is Lying I was looking forward to reading her second Two Can Keep A Secret and I wasn’t disappointed. I read it straight through in two days because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. Like her first book this one contains a murder mystery, this time in a town full of secrets. Ellery and her twin brother Ezra move to the small town of Echo Ridge to live with a grandmother they hardly know after their mother goes to rehab. A town where their aunt disappeared many years ago at the age of seventeen and where a former homecoming queen was murdered five years ago.
Throw away all your preconceptions of what picture books for children should look like or what trajectory they should follow, because you’re in for a real treat! This title had me laughing out loud the further into the story I got, at first with a chuckle at the premise that Catherine should spend whatever she likes because she won’t be around long enough to have to deal with the debts she incurs from her irresponsible spending habits – she has a point – and then as we made our way along the story, irrepressible laughter at Catherine’s unflappable practicality and unapologetic personality. I was reminded of Ariana Grande’s 7 rings throughout the entire book, in the best of ways.
I happened upon this title recently and absolutely adored it (I was tempted to rip off a coworker’s Staff Pick sticker so I could put my own on it), for reasons I’m sure are obvious just looking at the cover: Le livre où la poule meurt à la fin by François Blais, illustrated by Valérie Boivin. I agree with this reviewer that the complete irreverence of the entire book towards the topic of death (normally treated as a taboo topic, though do take a look at how other authors have treated death in picture books) is actually quite refreshing, especially what with the bright colours used throughout and the flippant, very tongue-in-cheekily practical attitude Catherine – the chicken – herself has towards her fate.
Hilarious through and through, this alternate perspective on death and what one can do with the knowledge of our own impending doom is a complete delight. And if you’re into unexpected twists (it’s almost like a right-angle Freytag triangle of plot structure), you might also enjoy another book by the same author in the same grimace series: 752 lapins, same author & illustrator duo. There’s also this other review of both of these titles that I enjoyed especially for their discussion suggestions with the child if you’re reading to one.
Keep reading for more (slightly less audacious) French picture books!
We’ve all been privy to the book that has been made into a movie. We’ve had those long conversations about what elements the movies missed from the book and how the book is so much better. We’ve even had a few of those rare conversations about those movies that are in some ways better than the book (looking at you Children of Men).
Movies aren’t the only medium of adoption for books, there are also a handful of musical pieces that have been created. Most of the time, it’s a single song: Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, Steve Hackett’s Narnia, Led Zeppelin’s Misty Mountain Hop are just a few to name.
What about full albums? One song is not enough time to get all the nuances of a book translated properly. There have been a handful of full length albums that have taken on the task of adapting a book, and I’ve compiled my five favourite.