An armadillo in Paris by Julie Kraulis
Tundra Books, 2014. ISBN 9781770495265
Arlo the armadillo from Brazil is always up for an adventure, a love he inherited from his grandfather Augustus who wrote a series of journals about his favourite destinations so that one day Arlo could see them for himself. On this, his first adventure, Arlo is off to Paris to explore its art, history and life and the mysterious La Dame de Fer, the Iron Lady, whom he might get to meet if he follows his grandfather's instructions.
Written in two strands; the first the journal entry of Augustus, and the second the narrator's description of what he sees and does; the reader is taken on a journey through the iconic sights of Paris beginning with the mad traffic circle whirling around the base of the Arc de Triomphe, eating flaky croissants at a traditional French cafe and on to meeting the Iron Lady. Who could she be? Throughout the journal entries, Augustus provides information and clues about this enigmatic figure until finally she is revealed.
Beautifully illustrated with a delicate palette this is an intriguing book which straddles the faction-fiction and fact-genre perfectly, entertaining and educating at the same time. It will introduce a fascinating city to new travellers and bring back memories for those who have had the pleasure of visiting. The inside of the dust cover is an imaginative use of what is usually blank space and there are snippets of extra information about the Iron Lady at the end. It has broad appeal, there is the cuteness of an armadillo having an adventure and solving the mystery of the Iron Lady for the younger readers, while there is an introduction to Paris and its culture for the more advanced reader. So much more interesting than some of the strictly factual books we ask our students to learn from.