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August 27, 2007 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Gimme your recommendations for children's books, in French (...the books, not your two cents, natch).

Aside from translations of English-language books, I'm looking for titles that I can read to our two-and-a-half year old daughter. My husband and I can speak passable Canadian anglophone up-to-grade-12-and-a-bit-more French. Right now we have one book, Barbapapa Sur Mars, which is right about where we hit our limit in terms of being able to read at a proper pace and translate on the fly. I'm looking for French story books for younger kids that have great pictures, are fairly simple but not for total morons (no "bilingual learning"-type books with just vocabulary words or English translations), and will stand both us (the parents) and our daughter in good stead vis a vis the vocabulary and cultual resonance, etc.

Basically I want someone to tell me about the Babar series I haven't already heard of, and recommend other quirky/interesting books you read to your tykes. (Female protagonists get extra points.) Merci bien!
posted by Mrs Hilksom to Writing & Language (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Le Chandail de Hockey has been recommended already, fwiw.
posted by Mrs Hilksom at 8:49 PM on August 27, 2007

Le Petit Prince is a classic, if you haven't read it yet.
posted by SassHat at 8:51 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by gramcracker at 8:53 PM on August 27, 2007

Le Petit Prince, bien sur!
posted by trip and a half at 8:56 PM on August 27, 2007

Oui, Le Petit Prince is on the list for when she's older. I'm looking for more pictures, younger audience.
posted by Mrs Hilksom at 8:58 PM on August 27, 2007

The whole Toupie series is awesome.
posted by YamwotIam at 9:10 PM on August 27, 2007

Sorry, more helpful link.
posted by YamwotIam at 9:11 PM on August 27, 2007

Kikirou and the Sorceress is based on a West African folk are the original versions of the Bre'r Rabbit stories---I found an English version in Louisiana which focused strictly on the animals.
posted by brujita at 9:13 PM on August 27, 2007

We have several classic children's books translated into French, including Max et les maximonstres, Bonsoir Lune, Devine combien je t'aime, and several others. A few of them are even board books, perfect for little ones. Now that my kids are older we're reading the Olivia books and other popular stories in french as well.

Amazon is a good resource for works in translation, and so are bigger chain bookstores.
posted by padraigin at 9:16 PM on August 27, 2007

Caillou books and my personal favourite, which is too hard as is, are the Stella series (eg Stella, fée des forêts; Stella, reine des neiges). I would recommend just reading one phrase from each page for a young-youngster. Marie Louise Gay is the author, and she also writes a more basic series for younger audiences. In English, for example, there's Good Morning Sam. I assume that there's a French Version of this series but I don't know offhand. Her books are great, the pictures are great. I'm not finding links easily though.
posted by kch at 9:30 PM on August 27, 2007

Isn't Calliou originally written in French? I've bought a number of Calliou books for my French-speaking niece, thinking it was originally in French.

I will occasionally buy a translated book, but I really try to look for French original books. The only downside is that French (France & Belgium) children's books tend to be a little dark and scary for a kid raised in North America.
posted by k8t at 9:31 PM on August 27, 2007

Jinx kch.
posted by k8t at 9:33 PM on August 27, 2007

posted by pompomtom at 9:35 PM on August 27, 2007

My three-your-old french niece LOVED Dora L'Exploratrice, originally from the US but pretty big worldwide now apparently. There are plenty of books, and apparently also a bilingual french/english show available on some Canadian channel.
posted by jacalata at 9:56 PM on August 27, 2007

Asterix and Obelix, and also Tintin. Both originally in French. I'd say Asterix is aimed at a slightly younger audience than Tintin, so perhaps start with that.

And obviously, keep up the Babar, a personal favourite of mine. :)
posted by djgh at 10:47 PM on August 27, 2007

Jacques Prevert.
posted by ilsa at 11:05 PM on August 27, 2007

I cannot recommend the Le Petit Nicolas books by Sempé-Goscinny enough. The illustrations are wonderful and the short stories about Nicolas and his classmates in the first years of primary school are bound to keep you both laughing. The book will also introduce you to French quirks and customs, and will expose the general mentality of the population, all seen through the eyes of Nicolas. I've grown up on these books, so right now that I am actually living in France, I do not feel like a stranger at all!
posted by charls at 12:31 AM on August 28, 2007

I love Petit-Bleu et Petit-Jaune.
posted by creeky at 12:44 AM on August 28, 2007

Seconding Caillou books: kids love them. My friends' daughters of that age want everything with Caillou (and there are a lot for every kids'age bracket).

k8t: the first Caillou books were originally written in French and the publisher is in Montreal, but all books have for a long time been published in French and English at the same time.
posted by bru at 5:01 AM on August 28, 2007

posted by heatherann at 5:27 AM on August 28, 2007

I have a few of the "Petite Collection de Peinture", Danse and Seins by Agnès Rosenstiehl. They use fine art to illustrate the books, and go through basic concepts, like "I will have breasts for nursing, that will be convenient when we take trips!" (That would be Seins, not Danse, which I can't find a copy of on Amazon.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:16 AM on August 28, 2007

For books with a female protagonists, you want the "Martine" (martine à la ferme, martine est malade...)series.
posted by racingjs at 9:48 AM on August 28, 2007

Gaston Lagaffe
Boule et Bill
Lucky Luke

&cent &cent
posted by phoque at 2:51 PM on August 28, 2007

There is a dragon in my bed / Il y a un dragon dans mon lit, by Sesyle Joslin. Review towards the end of the page here.
posted by paduasoy at 3:07 PM on August 29, 2007

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