Overview

"A bona fide knockout. C'est formidable!" declares Publishers Weekly in a starred review. In Paris, France, there lived a humble postman named Lalouche. He was small, but his hands were nimble, his legs were fast, and his arms were strong. When his job was replaced by an electric car, he turned to boxing to support himself and his pet finch, Genevieve. But-"You? A boxer?" the fighters asked. "I could sneeze and knock you down!" Still, Lalouche refused to give up. And perhaps small Lalouche was just nimble . . . just fast . . . and just strong
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Overview

"A bona fide knockout. C'est formidable!" declares Publishers Weekly in a starred review. In Paris, France, there lived a humble postman named Lalouche. He was small, but his hands were nimble, his legs were fast, and his arms were strong. When his job was replaced by an electric car, he turned to boxing to support himself and his pet finch, Genevieve. But-"You? A boxer?" the fighters asked. "I could sneeze and knock you down!" Still, Lalouche refused to give up. And perhaps small Lalouche was just nimble . . . just fast . . . and just strong enough to beat his fierce competitors. This is a marvelous story, full of humor and heart, and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, winner of a New York Times Best Illustrated Award. Includes an author's note with historical information about French boxing and electric cars. From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lalouche does not start out mighty in the least. A humble postman in 19th-century Paris, “He was small, Lalouche, and rather bony,” writes Olshan (Finn), whose effortless prose has a giddy Gallic lilt throughout. And yet, Lalouche’s “hands were nimble, his legs were fast, and his arms were strong,” qualities that serve him well when he is replaced on his route by an electric autocar and instead finds employment as sparring partner at the Bastille Boxing Club. Soon, the wiry, speedy Lalouche is a boxing champion and the toast of tout-Paris, vanquishing such deliciously named foes as the Anaconda, the Pointillist, and the Misanthrope. It’s easy to imagine a book about an unprepossessing civil servant and the belle epoque craze for la boxe française as having a rarified appeal at best, but Olshan and Blackall (Edwin Speaks Up) have created a bona fide knockout. Lalouche is an endearingly oddball hero, and Blackall takes her always-exquisite ink-and-watercolor artwork to another level, creating three-dimensional cut-out scenes that have the intensity of silent film and the magic of an exquisitely crafted toy theater. C’est formidable! Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Nancy Gallt, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (May)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Booklist, June 1, 2013:
“A delight artistically and emotionally...Très bien!

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, March 11, 2013:
“Lalouche is an endearingly oddball hero, and Blackall takes her always-exquisite ink-and-watercolor artwork to another level, creating three-dimensional cut-out scenes that have the intensity of silent film and the magic of an exquisitely crafted toy theater. C’est formidable!”

Starred Review, School Library Journal, April 2013:
“The illustrations are outstanding–Blackall has outdone herself… The text and pictures work expertly together, moving the story forward in clever and funny ways.”

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
About a century ago in Paris a small postman named Lalouche lives with his finch Genevieve. When he is fired because the postal service has bought electric autocars to do his job, he wonders how he can afford to live. He follows up an ad for nimble, fast, and strong sparring partners at a boxing club, but is laughed at by the manager. Soon, however, Lalouche proves himself. In a match against the Anaconda, he delivers a surprising final blow to win, and defeats all other opponents. But when he is offered his old postal job back, he is glad to take it. Now, however, he can afford a room with a view, "...and a special nook for Genevieve." The illustration on the front jacket/cover is created, like those inside, with Chinese ink and watercolors. The characters are cut out and photographed against simple backgrounds. We are introduced to our tiny hero confronting a towering pair of muscular legs. The somewhat frail yet comic figure, sporting a curly mustache and posing on oversized boxing gloves, immediately makes us smile. The end pages add to the fun by displaying a dozen posters of boxers with their descriptions. The text's brief narrative is visualized anecdotally, with most of the action set against blank backgrounds. There is a glossary of included French expressions. An author's note, with photos, fills in the factual background. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Lalouche is a Parisian postman living more than 100 years ago. Though diminutive, he is blessed with strong arms, nimble fingers, and fast legs. When he is sacked, thanks to the invention of an electric automobile, he must find a way to support himself and his beloved pet finch, Geneviève. Desperate, Lalouche joins the Bastille Boxing Club. Because he is so small, he is repeatedly underestimated as he continues to win matches against much bigger opponents, including gigantic Anaconda. It is when he fights "for country, mail, and Geneviève" that readers learn, "one should never underestimate a man who loves his finch." The story, along with the language, is entertaining; names like Diamond Jacques and the Grecque, and words like "tomfoolery," will keep readers and listeners amused. Some French is sprinkled throughout, e.g., "C'est impossible," and a glossary helps with translation. The illustrations are outstanding-Blackall has outdone herself. The ink-and-watercolor artwork was cut out, arranged in layers, and photographed, resulting in an eye-catching, textured, three-dimensional effect that children will love poring over. The text and pictures work expertly together, moving the story forward in clever and funny ways; Lalouche's facial expressions alone should elicit giggles from readers. An author's note about the history of French boxing and the invention of the electric car further enhance this captivating tale with a wonderful moral: small people are capable of great feats.—Laura Lutz, Pratt Institute, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
While he has no difficulty overcoming much larger and fiercer opponents in the boxing ring, the eponymous hero of this quirky collaboration may nonetheless struggle to find an appreciative audience. Lalouche is a postman in late-19th-century Paris. Slight but strong, he enjoys his work, adores his pet finch, Geneviève, and appreciates his small apartment, even if it doesn't have a view. Naturally, he is devastated when his superior informs him that he's being replaced. Determined to find work, he responds to an advertisement for sparring partners, and the rest is history (though there's a bit of mockery to endure before he triumphs). Luckily enough, the postal service's new "fleet of electric autocars" don't work out as expected, so by the happy ending, Lalouche is back to pounding the pavement and chatting with old friends on his regular route. Olshan's understated text flows smoothly, with occasional French phrases that emphasize the continental charm of his offbeat narrative. Blackall's ink-and-watercolor illustrations, meanwhile, combine exaggerated size differences and unusual angles with a collagelike style to create a gently humorous, old-fashioned, scrapbook feel. Illustrations of Lalouche's opponents are particularly amusing, including those that decorate the endpapers. Blackall's personal collection of pictures of old-time boxers apparently inspired Olshan's narrative; though thoroughly accomplished, it nonetheless has a very adult feel. It remains to be seen whether young listeners will consider Lalouche a real contender. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385377270
  • Publisher: Random House Childrens Books
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: NOOK Kids
  • Sales rank: 836,982
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • File size: 37 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

MATTHEW OLSHAN is the author of Finn: A Novel, a modern telling of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with girls as protagonists rather than boys. His latest novel The Flown Sky, is a fantasy in the tradition of C.S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles. Olshan lives in Baltimore, but also has a little farm in southcentral Pennsylvania, called Pencil Creek. Visit him at MatthewOlshan.com SOPHIE BLACKALL received the New York Times Best Illustrated Award for her book Big Red Lollipop, and won the Ezra Jack Keats Award for New Talent. She is the illustrator of Meet Wild Boars, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book; Jumpy Jack & Googily; What's So Bad About Being an Only Child?; Summer Is Summer; Edwin Speaks Up, and others. The Mighty Lalouche was written specifically for Sophie Blackall, after the author discovered that she collected old pictures of boxers, especially "extremely skinny ones with big billowing boxing trunks." A native of Australia, she lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at SophieBlackall.com
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