How do you encourage your children to get excited about taking trips? You read to them and encourage them to dream about taking the trip! In Henri’s Walk to Paris written by Leonore Klein and illustrated by Saul Bass, Henri is reading and dreaming about taking a trip to Paris. Most of the story takes place in the wonderful minimalist illustrations and the graphics evoke Henri’s thoughts and feelings as much if not more than the words do.
Henri is full of ideas of what Paris is like and how different it would be from where he lives. The story opens with Henri reading about Paris and the entire opening page is filled with descriptions of Paris (and I mean that literally, the first page is a graphic of a pair of little hands and little feet holding onto a book and overlain with a continuous stream of words with some of them running off the page). “Paris is wonderful Paris is springtime Paris is lovely Paris is Beautiful Paris is Fun Paris is Many People Paris is color….”
“Henri does not live in Paris, but he wishes he did.” I’m sure there is many a reader who shares that sentiment! The story goes on to talk about Henri’s life, his house, his friends, his parents, the neighbors, and how everything in Paris is different. Henri longs to see Paris. One day, he cannot wait any longer and he starts walking. He will walk to Paris. He has a plan, but like many small boys, after lunch he needs a nap. However, he wants to make sure that he knows which way to go when he wakes up, so he puts a pencil down on the ground pointing in the direction he should walk. A good plan, until a little bird comes along…Oddly enough, when Henri continues his walk, everything starts to look like Reboul where he lives, and everyone he knows is in Paris for the day just like him! (This part made my boys giggle, they loved being in on the joke.) He continues walking and comes to a little street just like his, and a little house, just like his, and as he tells his parents, he is “just as much at home in Paris as I am in Reboul.”
The graphic art in this children’s book is amazing. It encourages every child’s sense of adventure and was a fun starting point for talking about the things that are the same and different between where we live and places we are visiting or planning on visiting. My boys thought that Henri was a little silly, but they enjoyed the joke and are all set for their next independent adventure -around the block.