I decided to select one book this week for originality in illustration and writing – The Mighty Lalouche. The book is written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. It tells the story of a postman named Lalouche who loves working as a postman. Unfortunately, one day his boss tells him they are going to have to let him go. Lalouche is devastated, because he loved his job. However, he has to figure out how to make money. He sees a boxing poster advertising the need for people with all the abilities he possesses (he is fast, nimble, and strong). He decides to try his hand at boxing (even though he is very small and thin). He ends up beating some of the biggest and strongest boxers. However, in spite of all his boxing trophies, he misses his old job. Eventually he receives a call from his old boss and he gets his job back as a postman. Once more, Lalouche is happy and feels fulfilled.
I absolutely love everything about this book. I love the story, the french words thrown in, the quirky underdog, the beautiful and equally quirky drawings. I love the fact that the main character is a small and thin man who manages to outmaneuver the huge overly muscular boxers that assume they will take him down right away. Lalouche proves that looks can be deceiving and that he is much stronger than he appears. I also love that Lalouche is not in it for recognition – his true passion is being a postman (a job that is often not perceived to be prestigious or noteworthy in comparison to winning boxing trophies). It has such a great message about reaching goals, not letting others put you down, not judging others by their appearance, and about following your passions.
In addition to the great story I absolutely love the illustrations.They are colorful and quirky. I also love the decision to cut out the images and give the illustrations a three dimensional feel. It was a great choice which made the book even more unique and special. The arrangement of the words works perfectly with the illustrations presented by Sophie.
This is a beautiful look into life in late 19th century France. You do not need to be a boxer, a postman, or a Frenchman to relate to Lalouche – you just have to share the human experience.
Please be sure to check back every Friday to see what book(s) I selected as my Books of the Week for Originality in the Writing and Illustrations. Feel free to make any recommendations on books I should check out.