Michael le Souffle and the April Fool

Michael le Souffle and the April Fool

by Peter Welling, Peter J. Welling
     
 

Once upon a time in 1564, Charles IX, the king of France, ruled that the first day of the year would be January 1 instead of April 1. Those who forgot the change and celebrated New Year's Day on April 1 were ridiculed by having fish thrown at them. In the skilled hands of Peter Welling, this history takes on a hilarious dimension. In the French town of Bakonneggs,… See more details below

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Overview

Once upon a time in 1564, Charles IX, the king of France, ruled that the first day of the year would be January 1 instead of April 1. Those who forgot the change and celebrated New Year's Day on April 1 were ridiculed by having fish thrown at them. In the skilled hands of Peter Welling, this history takes on a hilarious dimension. In the French town of Bakonneggs, there exists a rivalry between the Mayor Melon de Plume, a pig, and a prankster rooster, Michael Le Soufflé. The mayor lacks a sense of humor and is annoyed to be disturbed from his slumber by Michael's crowing laughter. He issues new laws (including a ban on all feathers), but the town continues, under the rooster's leadership, to laugh and play.

Then one day, Michael posts a law, signed by the king, on the official oak tree: New Year's Day will no longer be April 1. From now on, the first day of the year will be January 1. Melon is in disbelief and chases the rooster with a wagon of fish, accidentally hitting the king with one, for which he is put in the stocks. The next year, he still celebrates April 1 as New Year's Day, and the king orders that he be pelted with fish until he comes to his senses. Melon is undaunted: he scoops up the fallen fish and hosts a big party, starting an annual day of celebration we now know as April Fools' Day. Populated by a menagerie of animals and creatures real and imagined, including a crafty crew of gargoyles, Michael Le Soufflé and the April Fool is sure to keep readers young and old coming back to discover new laughs on every page.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Welling (Shawn O'Hisser, the Last Snake in Ireland) creates a wordy slapstick comedy from an unfamiliar historical premise: with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1564, the French king (here portrayed as a rooster) proclaimed the start of the new year as January 1 instead of April 1, when it was formerly celebrated. Those who didn't get with the program were taunted as "Poisson d'Avril" or April Fish-the progenitor of today's April Fool. Welling recasts this turn of events as a battle of wits between a regular citizen, prankster rooster Michael Le Souffle, and a pigheaded (literally) mayor named Melon de Plume, sporting medieval garb. When Mayor Melon catches a rooster posting a notice of the calendar change, he begins hurling fish at him from the closest peddler's cart, crying "Your silly jokes have gone too far." But the rooster turns out to be not Michael but the King of France. A caricature of the porcine fellow being pelted with blue and olive-drab fish reveals the punishment decreed by the king. The watercolor-and-ink illustrations bubble with a goofy spontaneity, groan-worthy puns (a sign on a tree reads "Paris fish are in Seine!"), an anachronism or two (a poster of the "Tour de France," begun in 1903, hangs in the mayor's office) and French words (a glossary concludes the book). Unfortunately, Melon's embrace of April 1 comes out of nowhere and the narrative feels labored. Ages 5-8. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781589801059
Publisher:
Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
01/28/2003
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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