Paris Hide-And-Seek by Masumi

translated from the original French by Anita Conrade.

My sister went to Paris for her 40th birthday (lol, I went to The Melting Pot for mine) and got this delightful book for my youngest son Theo! Well, for all the kids, but since the protagonist is named Theo, it’s hard to believe that it’s not even a little bit especially for him.

In this seek-and-find picture book, Masumi leads the reader through the most famous sites of Paris, explaining their history in brief, kid-friendly paragraphs and letting the illustrations lead the way on each two-page spread. Each panoramic spread includes Theo, the boy with the scarf; his mischievous dog Potchi; a golden balloon, and an item highlighted in the text in bold for the reader to find.

The process of finding each of these is surprisingly soothing, helped by the luxe paper’s smooth fingertip feel, as well as by the almost-meditative maze that opens the book, really putting readers in the right mindset for the rest of the volume. I was feeling a little anxious and restless before starting this, but quickly fell into a lightly meditative state as I searched the pages for Theo, Potchi and the items. They’re not too difficult to find either. I managed all except one, likely hampered by the face that I still don’t know what a Paris Metro ticket is supposed to look like.

The thing I most appreciated about the incorporation of seek-and-find in this book was how it really made me stop and examine the illustrations for details. Of necessity, I’m a fast reader, which is a trait that often works to my detriment when it comes to illustrated stories. Being forced to slow down and look at Masumi’s intricate art and detailing really helped me breathe and relax and gain a deeper appreciation for her creation. It helps, too that this book lacks the overwhelming freneticism of the typical seek-and-find, allowing for a more leisurely consideration of what could genuinely be an ordinary cityscape.

It also really sparked my desire to travel and look at these beautiful places — or honestly any beautiful place that’s new to me — in person. While Paris might not be in the cards quite yet, I’ll definitely be taking some time off to go appreciate some novel landscapes soon.

Paris Hide-And-Seek by Masumi was published January 29 2009 by Parigramme.

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