Children's Book Review written by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
It's tricky being young or small. You often want to help, but people see you as not able to do the same jobs adults do. Here's a gorgeous new children's picture book from author Kim Chatel, called Clip-Clop, Tippity-Tap: French Vocabulary on the Farm which shows us that even little ones can be big helpers. Illustrated by Kathleen Bullock, it was published by Guardian Angel Publishing (2011).
Mini-moi is only six hands tall. He wants to work on the farm like the big horses, but he's too small. When Mini-moi runs away, he finds a whole menagerie of animals in need.
I think kids will love following Mini-moi's adventures and will certainly empathise with the little horse's desire to prove himself. His kind heart and helpful nature prompt him to offer help to all who need it, and at the end of a busy day, Farmer Yvette realises Mini-moi can do his own special work on the farm.
There are several French phrases/sentences included in the story, carefully placed so that context helps us work out their meaning. There's also a glossary at the back with translations and a great list of English/French words for animal sounds. "Croa croa" really does seem more realistic than "ribbit" doesn't it? I love the use of sound words like whoosh and thump and squawk in the story, making it ideal as a read-aloud to share with kids and have them join in.
I've reviewed several of Chatel's books - Burgher and the Woebegone, A Talent for Quiet and Rainbow Sheep. Clip-Clop, Tippity-Tap is the first that's been illustrated by Kathleen Bullock, and I believe this is a winning combination. The simple, colourful pictures are perfect for the story. Bullock's farm animals are quirky and charming, with just enough detail to be realistic, but not overwhelm. In all pages, several items and animals have the French/English labels next to their images, along with a phonetic pronunciation. You will get even more of an idea of this children's picture book from its trailer.
When I asked Chatel what prompted her to write Clip-Clop, Tippity-Tap, she said, "I grew up in one of the few English-speaking families left in Montreal, Quebec. Learning French became a life-long journey for me. I always admired my Grandmaman, Yvette Brunet, for teaching herself English. As a teenager at the beginning of the Depression, and the oldest of fourteen children, Grandmaman never finished school. She taught herself to read and speak English with magazines such as National Geographic. Grandmaman definitely portrays the spunky spirit of Mini-moi."
Clip-Clop, Tippity-Tap makes a perfect choice for parents with children who are learning French or parents who want their kids to know we live in a multilingual world. Children who love stories about animals will definitely be charmed by this tale of a tiny horse with a big heart.
Available through Amazon and Guardian Angel Publishing.
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