“For country, mail, and Geneviève!”

h1 May 23rd, 2013 by jules

“…his hands were nimble…”


Last week at Kirkus, I chatted with author Matthew Olshan and illustrator Sophie Blackall, who recently collaborated on The Mighty Lalouche, released this month by Schwartz & Wade Books. That Q&A is here, and today Sophie is sharing a few sketches, some of her research images (all the vintage photos you see below), and a sneak peek inside the book. The artwork, as you can read at the Q&A, was rendered in Japanese paper dioramas, or tatebanko.

(You can click on most of these images to enlarge them, though they’re a bit blurry in spots.)

Enjoy the images and artwork.


“One hundred and a few-odd years ago, in Paris, France, there lived a humble postman named Lalouche. He was small, Lalouche, and rather bony,
but his hands were nimble, his legs were fast, and his arms were strong.”

“For company, he kept a finch named Geneviève. His mustache was his other pride and joy. Lalouche’s rented room was on the Seine, but, unlike all the other rented rooms, it lacked a window with a view. Lalouche pretended not to mind,
but how he wished to see the brand-new city lights!”

“One day, Lalouche’s boss pulled up and said, ‘Look here, Lalouche. The postal service has just bought a fleet of electric autocars. A walking postman’s far too slow.
Je suis désolé, but we’re going to have to let you go.'”

‘You? A boxer?’ cried Diamond Jacques, who managed all the fighters at the boxing club. ‘I could sneeze and knock you down.’ But Lalouche refused to leave.”

“The boxers all laughed when they saw Lalouche. ‘I’ll zap him!’ cried Ampère. ‘I’ll pound him to a pulp,’ said the Piston. ‘But first,
I’ll tie him in a pretty bow,’
said the Grecque.”

“The hairless muscleman was huge, as tall as a spiral staircase, as wide as a wall of cubbies, as massive as a heap of undelivered packages. Lalouche struck a gallant fighting pose. ‘I’ll squeeze him till he pops!’ the Anaconda roared.
The bell rang out. The fight began.”

“And when the bell was rung, one man stood tall: the mighty Lalouche! Just then, Geneviève flew down and perched upon Lalouche’s shoulder. And when he smiled,
the crowd erupted in a frenzy. ‘Bravo! Bravo!’ they cried. Cameras flashed.
Lalouche’s bony arm was raised in victory.”

“From that day on, Lalouche fought every challenger who dared to climb into the ring—Old Shatterhand and Blériot; the Bolshevik, the Pointillist, and even the Misanthrope. He never lost. They never won.”

* * * * * * *

THE MIGHTY LALOUCHE. Copyright © 2013 by Matthew Olshan. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Sophie Blackall. Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, New York. All images reproduced with permission of Sophie Blackall and Schwartz & Wade.

10 comments to ““For country, mail, and Geneviève!””

  1. I loved watching the before and after of those amazing illustrations. Posting to Sulia with a link here. Thanks so much. I hope this wins a Caldecott!!

  2. What a lovely treat to see these images and the process. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I just saw this book this past weekend and I’m fascinated by the story and the art. Thanks for a behind-the-scenes look at the research and the process. The staging photo is so cool.

  4. Jules, I LOVE this post as much as I LOVE Sophie’s artwork… it’s not a chance if I have some hanging on my walls… This book seems superb! BRAVE both of you and thanks!!

  5. Looks like a knockout! Brava!

  6. Wow, that’s cool stuff.

  7. Very beautiful illustrations and enjoyed the old pictures too! Inspiring post. Very rich in detail and evokes something old in a new way. I love it!

    Thank you!

  8. Wonderful photos and collages. Such beauty and fun.

  9. […] then photographed and you can see more of her in progress work on the Seven Impossible Things blog, here. The details in each exquisite layer of paper are astonishing and bring the story to life […]

  10. […] True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785, written by Matthew Olshan (The Mighty Lalouche), which comes out next Fall from FSG. And I have a new series of chapter books with John Bemelmans […]

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