February 16, 2009

Francoise, Je Vous Aime. Vous et Votre Sweet Illustrations


K2 was still not asleep, so the kid and I had to scavenge a bedtime storybook from the random pile of eBay and library sale finds in our bedroom corner. The result: a thrashed copy of Bruno Munari's Zoo that was as mangy and tattered as the real zoo; and The Thank You Book by Francoise, which I vaguely remember throwing on the stack because it looked kind of retro-folksy.

Ooh la la, it is awesome, in that sugary sweet, innocent, modern simplistic, water colored folk art kind of way. It even got me feeling a little better about the zoo. This stuff looks like it could have fallen off the back of the etsy.com truck yesterday.


I haven't been able to find much information about Francoise, who turns out to be Francoise Seignobosc [say-nyo-boh], a French-American artist whose archive at the University of Minnesota lists around 40 children's titles, with publication dates ranging between the 1930's and 1960's.

The Thank You Book was published in 1947. A story of a donkey named Chouchou was named to the NY Times Book Review's best of list for 1958. And starting in the mid-50's, there was a series of books about a little girl from the French countryside named Jeanne-Marie which seemed to have some traction, getting reissued in the 1970's and again just a few years ago by an outfit called Omnibus Publishing.

Maybe it's the simpler art, or maybe it's because I'm still in junior high school, but I like the earlier books better, including the probably-never-going-back-into-print Gay books from 1938-9: The Gay Mother Goose and The Gay A B C, which look fabulous and perfect for reading to the kid during church. Hey, sailor!


English-language web surfers will find Francoise's books at any price you like; if you want to reward the Japanese for getting there first--or for hosting the best scans [see above]--you could pay Curio Books' asking prices of between 8,000 and 19,000 yen. Wow.

If anyone has a favorite Francoise book to recommend, or if you know anything more about Seignobosc and her work, please chime in below.

Buy Francoise's The Gay A B C on Amazon, starting at $25 [amazon]
Search for Francoise Seignobosc titles, used, rare, or new editions, on Amazon [amazon]
Francoise Seignobosc titles at Curio Books, Japan [lab-curio.com]
The Children's LIterature Research Collections: Francoise Seignobosc Papers [lib.umn.edu]


We're big fans of Jeanne-Marie at the Fair.

Beautiful little books.

Glad to see the mention. We're a big fan of "Minou". The girl seems to identify with it as we moved to Paris this summer and she has a little stuffed cat who often goes missing a la Minou.

Also have "What time is it, Jeanne-Marie?" but that didn't go over as well.

'Jeanne-Marie in Gay Paris' was one of the books we had and loved.

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