The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall

Images and text by Carter.

Maybe Gabrielle can chime in and tell me how to say, “Holy cow, this is the most exquisite and weirdly charming story I have ever seen in my entire picture-book-loving life” in French. The best I can do? C’est beau. It’s The Mighty Lalouche, by Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall.

Lalouche is a scrawny monsieur with a curly mustache and a finch named Genevieve. He leads a simple life as a postman, and lives in a simple apartment with a view of a brick wall. And then a fleet of electric cars wrecks Lalouche’s love, so he answers an ad for the Bastille Boxing Club. A postman? A boxer? Turns out Lalouche is nimble, fast, and strong — and more than anything, he loves that finch named Genevieve. It’s a story about having passion and talent, and the spectacular magic that occurs when you find each.

The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall

And the art — oh, the art. Each boxer, poster, and decorative frame is a separate piece, created with Chinese ink and watercolor. And then! Each was meticulously cut out, layered into place, and photographed. The result is a breathtaking blend of shadow and light, like watching a stop-motion piece that has been paused in the loveliest of poses. Every page. Each new spread. If you’re a Caldecott-watcher, I’d place some bets on this one in the ring.

The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall

P.S. – We love Sophie Blackall! She illustrated Aldous Huxley’s The Crows of Pearblossom, and Koseli shared her Missed Connections series here. Her work is so enchanting.