The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Over 100 years ago in Paris, there was a postman named Lalouche who thanks to his job delivering the mail was nimble, strong and fast. He lived a quiet life with just his pet finch and a view of the Seine River. When his job was replaced with an electric car, he was forced to turn to boxing to support himself. At first, he was laughed at because he was so small and slight, but once he got in the ring, he proved that those same postal service skills made him a great boxer. Soon he was pitted against The Anaconda in a major fight. What happens when Lalouche finally meets a boxer just as strong, nimble and fast as himself?
This is going to be one gushing review, since I complete adore this picture book. Olshan’s writing strikes just the right balance between history and humor. His text is completely readable and ideal to read aloud to a group. The names of the wrestlers are delightful: The Piston, The Anaconda, The Grecque. The story is satisfying and complete, one of those picture books that is all about the tale it is telling, much to its credit.
Blackall is the ideal illustrator for this quirky French picture book. She plays with proportions and size here, creating wrestlers that dwarf the little Lalouche. Her cut paper illustrations have a great dimension to them, the layers of paper creating shadows and depth. I love the warmth of the world she creates in her version of Paris, everything faded, watermarked and somehow familiar.
Highly recommended, this picture book would make a stellar pick to read aloud to elementary classes thanks to its boxing, action and humor. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House.