tosca's paris adventure
Tosca's Paris Adventure
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Cover of Tosca's Paris Adventure, by Abby Wasserman
Tosca's Paris Adventure
A read-aloud picture book for young
children about family, love, and
cross-cultural understanding.

Following is a review of
by librarian Mima Cataldo.

Written & Illustrated by Abby Wasserman

Review by Mima Cataldo, Ph.D.
July 24, 2007

When their pet cat, Tosca, wanders off with a French cat she's just met while on vacation in Paris, her family, Poire (Pear) and Poireau (Leek), search frantically for her, enlisting the aid of a green-bean policeman for lost cats and a sweet potato fortune teller. Abby Wasserman has combined a simple narrative of a cat's delighted (and sometimes scary) exploration of Parisian landmarks with whimsical pen and ink drawings and colorful watercolor imagery to tell a story of lost children, worried parents, and the lessons to be learned from wandering off.

Poire and Poireau's human qualities of caring and worrying, and their joy at finally finding Tosca, make them likeable characters, and our fondness for them has an understated benefit of enticing young children to "like their vegetables." The book is further enhanced by Wasserman's use of the French words for the fruit and vegetable characters's names. A glossary of French terms used in the story, as well as a full translation of the entire text at the end, add a valuable bilingual component to this book.

The story is told from two perspectives, the child's (Tosca) and the parent's, and reveals the differences in their perceptions of time. It also traces Tosca's growth in her ability to stand up for herself (to a bullying dog).

The full-page color drawings, alternated with inset images on boldly colorful background pages, invite young readers to explore the visual cues of famous Parisian settings. "Tosca's Paris Adventure" would make a noteworthy addition to the picture book collection of public libraries as well as the pre-school and K-2 school library. As a read-aloud, it is an excellent jumping off point for a simple discussion of travel behavior, getting lost and eventually found, and indirectly, the likeability of fruits and vegetables.

Mima Cataldo, Ph.D.
District Librarian (retired 2007)
Reed Union School District
Tiburon, CA

Conflux Press
ISBN 0978541502 (13-digit ISBN 9780978541507)
Price: $15.95 U.S., $18.50 Canada
Date: July 2006
Page Count: 32
Distributors: Baker & Taylor, Follett Library Services, Brodart Co.

Following is a review of
by children’s author Barbara Jean Hicks.

Written and illustrated by Abby Wasserman
ISBN 0978541502
Review by Barbara Jean Hicks

If you like quirky, you'll love TOSCA'S PARIS ADVENTURE. Where else could you find a family composed of a pear, a leek, and a cat?! In fact, this delightful tale of a small cat lost in a big city is inhabited solely by walking, talking fruits and vegetables and their pet dogs and cats. The concept sounds wacky but works wonderfully, due in large part to author-illustrator Abby Wasserman's matter-of-fact narration and the charming ink and watercolor paintings that accompany the simple text.

The unlikely trio, Poire, Poireau and Tosca, arrive in the City of Lights on holiday expecting adventure-and getting a bit more than they bargained for. They start out doing the sorts of things any tourist family might do: enjoying croissants and café au lait at a sidewalk café, looking for antiques at the flea market, buying a bouquet from the local flower seller. Then Tosca meets Basho, a friendly French tabby who invites her to watch a puppet show in the park.

Before her parents realize she is gone, Tosca has wandered off to explore the wonders of Basho's Paris-only to be trapped on the roof of Notre Dame for the night. While Tosca sleeps peacefully under the stars, Poire cries herself to sleep and Poireau sits up most of the night waiting for news of their missing cat. Finally, with the help of a gallant string-bean police sergeant and a prescient sweet potato fortune teller, the pair are reunited with Tosca, who has continued her adventures completely oblivious to the panic she has caused.

Tosca's actions are so like a curious child's in a new and exciting place, and the garden-grown couple's emotions so like the parents of a missing child, that one is quite willing not only to suspend one's disbelief in the premise, but to revel in the suspension. I am reminded of an incident from my own childhood, in a time and place much more innocent than these, when without telling anyone I walked home from school to a friend's house instead of my own. Like Tosca, the thought never entered my mind that my parents would be frantic and have the local chief of police out looking for me!

TOSCA'S PARIS ADVENTURE, in addition to being an enchanting tale to share with preschoolers and primary children, is a good jumping-off place for a discussion about safety issues when families travel together. The story also introduces general multicultural issues and some basic French vocabulary. Included in the end notes is a complete side-by-side translation of the English text into French, a glossary of French terms, and a review of the famous Paris sites Tosca visits. But the quirky characters and beautiful, Matisse-like illustrations are the draw that will bring readers, young and old, back to this charming and whimsical book over and over again.

About the Reviewer: Barbara Jean Hicks is a former educator, editor and copywriter and the award-winning author of numerous books for adults and children, including the ALA Notable Children's Book, JITTERBUG JAM, (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2005) and THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER KITTY (Knopf 2007).

This review appeared in the July 2007 online issue of Midwest Book Review.

Conflux Press, 2006
$15.95; available from Follett Library Services, Brodart Co., and Baker and Taylor.

Copyright 2005-2012 Abby Wasserman. All rights reserved.