LA LA ROSE
Satomi Ichikawa, . . Philomel, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24029-4
A universal childhood experience—a favorite toy gone missing—retains a certain freshness as Ichikawa (the Tanya books) gives this topic a gentle twist and a lovely Paris setting. A spring day begins cheerily enough as Clementine, her stuffed pink rabbit La La Rose in tow, visits the Luxembourg Gardens with her little brother and grandmother. However, events take a dramatic turn when La La Rose inadvertently falls from Clementine's backpack and is unceremoniously tossed, kicked and dunked by various garden-goers. Ichikawa's choice of narrator puts a bright face on the increasingly tense sequence of events. La La Rose, the toy, relates her frightening separation from her beloved Clementine (and the joyful reunion that ensues) in a charmingly direct, childlike voice. Equally enjoyable is the backdrop of one of Paris's most beautiful (and family-friendly) spots. The artist's sunny, delicately outlined watercolors balance the details of this historic venue with the playful movements and general bustle of its many visitors. Carefully landscaped flowers and trees in full bloom, statues, the fountain where children sail wooden boats, a carousel and the elegant Luxembourg Palace are a treat to behold; readers needn't recognize the landmarks to fully appreciate the scenery or the story. A crisply rendered map of the site, located on the endpapers, will help readers visualize La La Rose's travails—and the treasures of the Gardens. Ages 4-up.
Reviewed on: 02/23/2004