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Stories 1, 2, 3, 4


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About the Author

Eugene Ionesco (1909-1994) was one of the foremost French playwrights of his time. His work is read and taught and performed around the world. Etienne Delessert has illustrated more than eighty books, some translated in 14 languages, with millions of copies sold worldwide. His illustrations have appeared in Le Monde and The New York Times, among many others, and he has animated pieces for Sesame Street.


"Among the most imaginative picture books of the last decade... Ionesco's poker-faced absurdities and Delessert's uncanny illustrations reflect the interior world of children with immense originality." --Maurice Sendak "Newly translated by Delessert from the 2009 French edition, this gathering also features the first appearance of his illustrations paired to any English version of Story 3 and Story 4. Each tale starts in the same way--little Josette coaxes an early morning flight of fancy from her father, who in three of the four is bleary from a long night on the town--but then veers off in increasingly elaborate directions. By the final one, he is repeatedly sending her to "look" for him in various rooms of the apartment while he shaves and dresses in the bathroom. Delessert's crowded, detail-rich pictures add period elements (a dial telephone, a yellow submarine with visible Beatle) to surreal assemblages of toys, plush and fantasy animals, red-capped mushrooms, psychedelic flowers and cozy close-up scenes of Josette with Papa and (more occasionally, as she is generally elsewhere until the very end) Mama. Handsomely designed, more silly than existentially "absurd" and just the ticket for sharing on a parental lap."--Kirkus "Fresh as ever."--Publishers Weekly "Some of the best children's books have an element of absurdity to them, whether in the story telling or the strange pictures that accompany them. This collection has a fantastic amount of both."--Apartment Therapy "Originally published overseas piecemeal across the sixties and seventies, this droll work is all you could hope for from Ionesco"--Daniel Kraus, Booklist (Starred Review) "Four stories are devoted to exchanges between a small girl and her parents (and sometimes a maid) as she wakens them each morning hungry for a story. A third-person narrator clues readers in that Mama and Papa have been out late the night before, and that the father has most likely overindulged in food, beverage, and entertainment, but the richness of the text lies within his stories. The tales range from the absurd (a child's name is Jacqueline, as is everyone's name in her family as well as all whom she meets), to the renaming of all objects in the house, and a highly imaginative father/daughter flight on an airplane. The closing story is a cheeky pseudo-game of hide-and-seek where Papa encourages his daughter to "find" him as he bellows clues to his whereabouts from the bathroom as he prepares for the day. Stunningly illustrated, this collection is a visual feast. Young children will linger over pages full of animals, artifacts, even a lunar landscape. The stories may, at first glance, seem absurd, but to imaginative children, they make perfect sense. The dialogue between the girl and the adults in her life is spot-on silliness and will resonate with those who are young and those who remember being young. Perfect for lap sharing, albeit a bit heavy, this book will keep them engaged for hours."--C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY, School Library Journal "This is no ordinary kiddie book!"--Smithsonian's Book Dragon

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