Plot: Jack was born of the love of a flutist and tuba player. His parents were so poor that they slept on their kitchen stools, leaving the only bed to Jack. They wanted their son to learn a useful skill (unlike playing The Four Seasons on instruments Vivaldi had never intended) so they sent him to school. But before he could complete his education, they both passed away. Orphaned and alone, he was left to decide between learning a trade and living on the street. He eventually becomes a succesful baker, deeply affects his entire neighbourhood and, like his parents, finds love.
I have a problem with the covers of a lot of French children’s novels (though the situation has been improving), they do not make me want to read them. This book is a good example. I admit that if one of my coworkers hadn’t shoved it into my hands, I probably would never have picked it up. I’m glad she did because it is quirky and fun and occasionally twisted (though you might not get that from my plot description). As a good children’s book should be. ^_^
Galmot is not afraid of the absurd. He starts his story with two young people expressing their love by learning to play The Four Seasons on flute and tuba. If only, Jack’s mother wishes at some point, they had been a violin player and a string orchestra… but they are happy nevertheless. Jack cries at his parents’ funeral because it is the first time he has seen them lie down. And the story ends in a neighbourhood where every day is Monday because Jack’s electric calendar has stopped working. I was constantly chuckling to myself.
The whole story has a fairy tail structure. It is told in sevens. Jack starts school at 7, is orphaned at 14, is apprenticed at 21, opens a shop at 28 and …so on. There is also a lot of repetition: Jack can only bake 2 things (though he bakes them better than anyone), Mondays and then Sundays repeat endlessly and Jack learns to play the exact song his parents loved. These numbers and repetitions structure the story very effectively. In a longer, less well written story this repetition might have grown annoying but in this book it is charming.
The whole is supplemented by lovely colour illustrations. It is a quick, fun read that is well worth an hour of your time.