The Bathing Costume: Or the Worst Vacation of My Life

Overview

The book's protagonist is Michel, an eight-year-old Parisian boy. His brother Martin, who's twelve, detests him, and he detests Martin right back. This summer, Michel will go away alone, which really means without his mom, to stay with his grandparents while his parents move apartments. To add to the horror, Michel's older boy cousins will be going, too. As Michel says, "To put it simply, they are big, strong, and pals with Martin. I am their scapegoat." Recounted by Michel himself, his vacation doesn't turn out ...

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Overview

The book's protagonist is Michel, an eight-year-old Parisian boy. His brother Martin, who's twelve, detests him, and he detests Martin right back. This summer, Michel will go away alone, which really means without his mom, to stay with his grandparents while his parents move apartments. To add to the horror, Michel's older boy cousins will be going, too. As Michel says, "To put it simply, they are big, strong, and pals with Martin. I am their scapegoat." Recounted by Michel himself, his vacation doesn't turn out to be such a complete zero after all. Between a competition to see who can shower the least, wild bike rides without gear, and a tooth that finally falls out, Michel discovers both independence and real moments of happiness.

The text is both very funny and moving, with good reason, for we see an eight-year-old's vacation with his grandparents and older cousins through his own eyes, with all of the little things that are important to a boy of eight: the dumb things that he'll never tell his mom; the small triumphs; the disregard and mocking of the older cousins; the shame of having a bathing suit that slips off in the pool; the freedom of being away from home; and the satisfaction of overcoming fears. As always, Olivier Tallec's illustrations render all the emotions of our little hero with an enormous amount of expressiveness, talent, and sheer gorgeousness.

A 2014 Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

Pamela Paul
Moundlic gets the voice just right…Tallec is gorgeously sensitive to the passions of childhood…Readers will dive right in.
Publishers Weekly
Moundlic and Tallec’s previous collaboration, The Scar, chronicled a boy’s anger and heartache following his mother’s death. Although the traumas faced by almost-eight-year-old Myron are less serious—spending the summer away from his mother, feeling intimidated by his cousins, being terrified that his swimsuit will fall off at any moment—this duo treats them with the same care and insight. Myron’s growth and the length and maturity of his narration make the story read like a middle-grade novel that’s been stripped down to essentials. Myron describes his first week at his grandparents’ house in the French countryside, from trying to avoid bathing (“The bathroom is really, really old and the shower is full of spiders”) to the illicit joy of biking without helmets and facing his biggest fear, a 10-foot diving board. Tallec’s softly rendered illustrations are always in tune with Myron’s moods—at the story’s emotional peak, Myron is seen from behind, alone at the edge of the diving board, futilely trying to hold up the yellow swimsuit that’s betraying him. A pensive, sensitive book for pensive, sensitive children. Ages 5–8. (May)
From the Publisher
2014 Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book

“It’s funny. It’s touching without being cloying. Its tone is just right, and the characters nearly leap off the page in all their authenticity. It’s a coming-of-age story with heart and truth and lots of humor. Don’t miss it. ... The Bathing Costume is enticing and humorous reading that youths will relish with a charming art style, recommended.” - Julie Danielson, Kirkus

“Moundlic gets the voice just right...Tallec is gorgeously sensitive to the passions of childhood.” - The New York Times Book Review

“Moundlic’s tale of bourgeoning self-confidence is on the lengthy side, but it resonates with emotional truth.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Tallec’s gentle watercolors capture Ronnie’s misery, the beauty of the French countryside, the energy of a summer with cousins and Ronnie’s bare-bottomed triumph.”- Kirkus Reviews

“Tallec’s softly rendered illustrations are always in tune with Myron’s moods...” - Publishers Weekly

“A pensive, sensitive book for pensive, sensitive children.” - Publishers Weekly

School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Eight-year-old Myron is sent to spend a week in the country with his grandparents while his parents prepare for a move. This is his first vacation without his mother. He is dreading the separation and is a little afraid of his Grandpa and his bigger, stronger cousins. To make matters worse, this is the summer he is expected to fulfill the family tradition of jumping off the 10-foot diving board. Myron is sure he's not ready, especially since he's using his older brother's swimsuit, which is too big and certain to come off when he jumps. His evolution from timid Mama's boy to a more confident and independent kid feels genuine. By the end of the week, Myron has gained the respect of his cousins, overcome his fear of his grandfather, jumped off the high dive, and, most importantly, forgotten about missing his mother. Though the text is somewhat lengthy, the translation is smooth and the narrative is broken down into daily vignettes that can be read as short chapters. Expressive illustrations have a sunny summer feel and are full of humor and appealing details. For children who have nervously anticipated their first independent trip, this book not only acknowledges the anxiety, but also gently and realistically demonstrates that being on your own can turn out to be fun.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
An 8-year-old boy prepares to have the worst vacation of his life. To give his parents an opportunity to prepare for a move, young Ronnie (short for Myron) finds himself bound for Grandma and Grandpa's without Mama for the first time in his life. As if that weren't bad enough, he'll be there with his three rowdy, older cousins. Even worse, he has to do "a little work every day," getting ready for third grade by writing a cumulative letter to his mother. With editorial savvy, he leaves out throwing up in the car and having his bed short-sheeted. He omits the competition he devises with his cousins to see who can wash least, and there is absolutely no way he will tell her everything about the "amazing" time he spends biking in the backyard with his cousins—sans helmets. Though he is clearly settling in, he is apprehensive about the final day, on which he will have to dive from the high diving board, a family tradition. Exacerbating this is the fact that he has his older brother's much-too-big "bathing costume" (Grandma's language). Moundlic's tale of bourgeoning self-confidence is on the lengthy side, but it resonates with emotional truth. Tallec's gentle watercolors capture Ronnie's misery, the beauty of the French countryside, the energy of a summer with cousins and Ronnie's bare-bottomed triumph. "I want to have exactly the same vacation next year," he concludes. Who wouldn't? (Picture book. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592701414
  • Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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