Book of the Week: The Mighty Lalouche

September 23, 2013

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.

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Sweet & Shorts: Skillshare « Design of the Picture Book
September 27, 2013 at 8:30 am

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linda K September 23, 2013 at 11:14 am

Ohhh, I just ordered this for my kids, can’t wait until it arrives! Also, had the distinct and random pleasure to meet Sophie this summer – what a treat. My kids tumbled madly into love with her instantly, so she’s a bit of a ‘feature’ now around the house. So we, too, “love Sophie Blackall!” (If my children are destined to be groupies, so glad it is of the literary sort for now.)

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2 Carter Higgins September 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I love that: literary groupies!

I rode in an elevator with her in the spring; she was speaking at a conference I attended. I tried SO hard to be calm, cool, and collected, that I made myself too nervous to just say hello like a normal person.

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3 Jen September 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

i am so excited to check this book out. i LOVE your book of the week selections – they have been spot on so far and we have really enjoyed them. thank you!

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4 Carter Higgins September 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Thank you, Jen!

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5 Amy Hackworth September 23, 2013 at 11:25 am

Carter, what a beauty! Can’t wait to check this out!!

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6 Carter Higgins September 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm

You will just faint and fall in it at these pictures.

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7 Matthew Olshan September 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I’m thrilled that you chose our humble Lalouche as a “Book of the Week!”

Sophie certainly has my vote for the Caldecott. (I only wish it counted…)

Best wishes,

Matthew

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8 Carter Higgins September 23, 2013 at 2:50 pm

It counts!

I’m thrilled you found your way here, Matthew. I loved your and Sophie’s dedication to each other. So cool!

Also, your story matters SO MUCH to me. I’m about to be a librarian again, which is a job I’ve been gone from for a while in favor of another. I feel a lot like Lalouche, returning to my postman roots. (And without a mustache or boxing gloves!)

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9 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag September 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Sophie is……incredible on a stick. Can’t WAIT to check this out!

I’m reading ‘Oddfellows Orphanage’ to my daughter right now, and at one point she looked at me and said, ‘Mama, I don’t want this book to end.’

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10 Carter Higgins September 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Incredible on a stick!

And that’s an awesome recommendation, Melissa – I’ll check it out!

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11 Laura September 23, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Ooh… the illustrations look utterly enchanting. I am already stashing away Christmas gifts for my girls; this will most definitely have to find its way into the stack. Thank you for the recommendation!

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