7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #345: Featuring Benjamin Chaud

h1 August 25th, 2013 by jules

“Papa Bear’s ears twitch at the sound of two paws clapping.
‘Bravo, Papa!’ says Little Bear. ‘That was beautiful!’
‘I have a surprise for you!’ Little Bear explains,
‘I followed the bee, and you must see what I found!'”

(Click to enlarge spread)

This morning I’ve got an international import, coming to shelves in September from Chronicle Books. Benjamin Chaud’s The Bear’s Song was originally published in France in 2011. Those of you who closely follow international picture books may recognize Chaud’s name: He’s the creator of the Pomelo books.

This very tall book tells the very fun tale of a young bear who runs away from home, right on the tail of a bee. The bee has caught his eye, deep in the forest where he lives — just as he’s about to relax with his Papa Bear and begin hibernation. Little Bear has honey, and only honey, on the mind, so off he goes. When Papa Bear realizes his boy is gone, he chases his son, looking high and low, and the adventure begins.

Move over, Waldo. Chaud provides very detailed seek-and-find spreads here. First, Papa Bear looks all over the forest; then, the city; then, inside the lobby of the opera house.

“Papa Bear wakes with a start. ‘Where did my Little Bear run off to now?’ he wonders. With a bounce and a bound, Papa Bear dashes through the trees.
He searches every corner of the forest, but he just can’t find his cub.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

These are spreads for poring over, for taking in all the little details. (I’ve only read this to my own daughters, not yet a group of children, who lingered over each spread, even determining who or what they would be in each spread, if they could hop into the story.) It’s fun to spot Little Bear, as well as take in the details, humor, and brief storylines embedded into each spread.

Chaud builds the tension well. It’s never a traumatic nail-biter, this notion of a child, albeit the furry kind, running away. It’s light-hearted and even entertaining, following Papa Bear as he eventually barrels his way into an opera house and even “snuffles his snout through a backstage door.” Theatre-lovers will really enjoy this particular spread:

“Papa Bear snuffles his snout through a backstage door, startling a flock of strange, feathered birds who squawk as they scatter. With no time to apologize,
Papa Bear flees! Downstairs, then up, toward the sweet sounds of music. Until…”

(Click to enlarge spread)

He follows, as you can see there, the “sweet sounds of music” until, lo and behold, he finds himself hanging from a chandelier on the opera’s mainstage. He’s frozen in fear, as the audience stares at him, and then decides to sing Little Bear’s favorite lullaby in the hopes it will lure his child to him.

And the results—I can’t give it all away, you know—are both funny and sweet. But just-right sweet, not maudlin sweet. There’s a quirkiness to this story that I like, and Little Bear’s nonchalance regarding the havoc he’s wreaked is particularly amusing to me.

This is also a well-translated book, with moments of pleasing alliteration—“A busy sort of buzzing beckons him instead”—and understated moments of humor. (My favorite is the narrator’s “Oh. Never mind” right before Papa Bear, from stage, decides to sing.)

It’s a joyous romp, this French import, and definitely worth exploring.

(Click to enlarge the cover)

THE BEAR’S SONG. Copyright © 2011 by Benjamin Chaud. English translation copyright © 2013 by Chronicle Books, San Francisco. All images used with permission of the publisher.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

My kicks today are that my girls completed their first week back at school, and now it’s the weekend and feels like summer again — in that we have more time and can do things together OR just laze about, enjoying later bedtimes and a more relaxed schedule. Also, that—on the day I type this (Saturday)—I’m about to head out with some good high school friends and visit a favorite Italian restaurant and then see a movie I’ve been eager to see.

As always, it’s the simple things. How about you?

16 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #345: Featuring Benjamin Chaud”

  1. Good Sunday morning, Jules! I am so happy you highlighted this book. Otherwise I would probably never have seen it. I popped into my favorite indie store and put it on order. It looks delightful. I’ll have to keep Benjamin Chaud on my radar.

    So glad you and your girls have been able to enjoy each other this weekend after being back at school.

    My kicks:
    1. My neighborhood book club. The girls (4th, 6th and 7th) and I have having a great time. We finished our second book.
    2. Cold laser treatments are working on Xena
    3. Morning glories are finally blooming on the twining vines on my deck.
    4. I have tiny green tomatoes.
    5. The deer have eaten all the hostas in two of my gardens. Now I won’t have to cut those back this fall. Ha!
    6. All the new book releases
    7. The sound of chickadees in my gardens

  2. PS I hope everyone has a super week!

  3. This book looks great. The images remind me of the late Robert Barry’s (of “Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree”) illustrations.

    Jules – School doesn’t start for another week here. I have the mixed feeling of not wanting to give up Summer and the need to get back to a routine that involves more studio time.

    I hope you enjoyed that movie. I am looking forward to seeing it too (most likely on dvd).

    1. Modern Medicine
    2. Our proximity to Boston that has some of the best of previously mentioned medicine in the world.
    3. Coffee
    4. The wisdom of my years (ha).
    5. My friend, Jen Hill’s adorable characters on her blog. http://jenhillustration.blogspot.com/
    6. Oreo truffles
    7. My painting is back in the window of the art gallery in Harwich. http://moiraswiatkowski.com/blog/
    Have a fantastic week all.

  4. Hi Margie!
    I didn’t know deer ate hosta. I thought only my husband’s lawnmower did that.
    Morning glories are the best!

  5. Thanks for the new book Jules. I love Chaud”s detailed illustrations. Love Pomelo books.
    Jules, so glad you had a fabulous weekend with the girls. Our students don’t arrive until next week. Hope the movie was good.
    Margie, hope Xena keeps on healing. How cool that you have a neighborhood book club.
    Moira, your print “Ready” is gorgeous. Reminds me of my time at the beach.
    My kicks:
    1. Receiving a poem in the mail as part of a summer poetry swap.
    2. Sharing Mary Lee Hahn’s and my collaborative poem for Poetry Friday.
    3. Walking.
    4. Caught up on Breaking Bad.
    5. Reading Boys Without Names.
    6. Coffee with a friend.
    7. Peaches.
    Have a great week.

  6. Good morning, Imps!

    Hello to Benjamin Chaud and his bears. That is a fun book.

    Jules: Please let me know what you think of In a World! (You too, Moira, if/when you see it!) I’ve wanted to see it since I first heard about it eons ago. Yay for celebrating the simple things.

    Margie: Glad that Xena is doing well. Enjoy the flowers and the fruits, the critters and the book club.

    Moira: Congratulations on having your artwork prominently displayed!

    Jone and Mary Lee Hahn: Here’s to happy collaborations.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Performances
    2) Rehearsals
    3) Auditions
    4) Writing
    5) Books: Christopher Golden’s new short story collection Tell My Sorrows to the Stones, and the reissue of Storm Warning by Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski!
    6) Music: Check out Andrew Belle’s new album Black Bear (and, if this is the first you’re hearing of him, back track and get his album The Ladder)
    7) Lin-Manuel Miranda at the Dramatists Guild: http://livestre.am/4ACBp

  7. What wonderful detail in the illustrations! Lovely book.

    Jules – how was the movie? Just checked out the trailer and sooo loved her valley girl interaction, ah memories of L.A.

    Margie – glad Xena is healing…

    Moira – oreo truffles and coffee – yum. Hooray that your painting is in the window of the gallery – love the sense of anticipation in it!

    Jone – you are yet another person making me think I need to start in on Breaking Bad. Sounds like you had a full week, coffee with a friend is such a lovely necessity whenever possible.

    LW – how many shows are you simultaneously performing in and rehearsing for now? I swear you make my head spin! Break multiple legs, as needed!

    My quick kicks:
    1) Coffee with a new friend.
    2) Cocktails with another friend who started grad school. Very fun to hear about all the excitement and beginning of that journey.
    3) Busy week at work. Glad its over with.
    4) Watching The Princess Bride at the park in my neighborhood. Part of the movies after dark series.
    5) Trips to the river with Cole.
    6) Planning a work trip with vacation at the end of it in October to Savannah & New Orleans.
    7) Blackberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake came out very well and was a big hit at work. My summer cakes goal is moving forward.

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

  8. Margie: I didn’t know you had a book club. That sounds fun. I’m glad to hear Xena is well, too.

    Moira, I hear ya on the mixed feelings. And what I’ve found—and really gotta work on—is after a very, very busy summer (with more work than normal) I’m having trouble getting into a routine of work. Last week was the first week without children here all day, and I found it difficult to be productive. I’m more determined this week to get it right. … The movie was very smart and very fun. … Congrats on kick #7 … and on modern medicine, though at first I thought you meant a band or something!

    Jone, oooh, now I gotta go find your and Mary Lee’s poem! Thanks for the heads-up.

    Little Willow, the movie was really great! Go see it! … Thanks for the links and especially the music recommendation. I shall explore.

    Rachel, yes, that’s the Sexy Baby voice, which she hates so much. At least I think that’s what it’s called. … And oh. my. god. can you direct us, by chance, to the recipe in your last kick? Your trip sounds fun, and oh how I love The Princess Bride. Read the book this summer with my girls.

  9. Jules, here is the link, but I modified the recipe.


    I doubled it because I was bringing it to work, and I always use more vanilla, and prefer brown sugar whenever possible. Mine came out more dense and moist than her pictures because I also combined half unbleached flour with half almond flour. It was a big hit. Next time I might add cake flour to make it rise more. Also, if you heat it up, then dump vanilla yogurt on top its super yummy. Enjoy!

  10. Rachel, thanks! I don’t think I could convince my girls to eat that, but I know that my husband and I could take care of it.

  11. Actually, the youngest loves blackberries and might try it.

  12. Aww, The Bear’s Song sounds and looks good! French picture books always have such sophisticated art.

    Juuuuuules *hugs you*

    Hi, everyone! I wish you all many more kicks this week!

  13. Hi, Tarie. Hope a lack of kicks doesn’t mean your week was bad, ’cause if so, I’d have to … um … somehow beat up the week.

    Apropros to nothing, I’m listening to Neko Case’s new CD now, and she always gives me hope for humanity.

  14. Hi All!
    Jules, congrats on7 great years – and bringing more art and beauty to so many.

    Nice to read all fun kicks!

    LOVE this book, what fabulous illustrations.

    My kicks:
    1. Home in New England for 2 weeks!!!!!!
    2 great visit on Boston with kindred spirits and ice cream buddies
    3. Incredibly yummy black raspberry ice cream with said ice cream buddies
    4. At my annual artists-who-produce materials for children retreat in beautiful Maine
    5. picurebook workshop is going pretty well!
    6. My husband and Little surprised me by coming 3 days early to join me

    It feels so good to be home!

    Have a great week.

  15. Hi, Allison. So glad you had good travels. Maine sounds wonderful, and I always like to hear about this picture book workshop. … And thanks for the birthday wishes!

  16. […] of print and digital media. I love Chuck Groenink, Ignacy Witz, Makoto Kagoshima, Miroslav Šašek, Benjamin Chaud, Laurent Moreau, and Dahlov […]

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