Synopses & Reviews
is the first of five books that bring to life the day-to-day adventures of a young school boy amusing, endearing and always in trouble.
An only child, Nicholas appears older at school than he does as home and his touchingly naive reactions to situations cut through the preconceptions of adults and result in a formidable sequence of escapades. This first book in the series contains a collection of nineteen individual stories where, in spite of trying to be good, Nicholas and his friends always seem to end up in some kind of mischief. In the school room, at home, and in the playground, their exuberance often takes over and the results are calamitous at least for their teachers and parents. Whether confusing the photographer hired to take the class picture, rescuing a "stray" dog, or trying desperately to help the teacher when the school inspector pays a visit, Nicholas always manages to make matters worse.
"Phaidon takes a sure step into the children's book arena with this entirely engaging volume, a winning combination of writing, translating and illustrating that gives youngsters a flavor of France (where it has been a bestseller since its 1959 publication). Goscinny's (Asterix) collection of 19 linked tales stars high-spirited narrator Nicholas, a French schoolboy who, along with his classmates, has a knack for landing in trouble. Seemingly quotidian situations in Nicholas's life yield riotous repercussions, as the incessant squabbling among the youngsters tends to result in a delightful domino effect, until events culminate in a comedic climax. A disastrous class photo session drives the photographer away before he snaps the shot, a pick-up soccer game sends the kids bickering about their positions until they're finally set (then realize they have no ball), and a new boy in class who doesn't speak English spouts the off-color language he has picked up from his peers. The hero's recurring references to several students function as humorous comic bits (such as Alec, 'my friend who is fat and he likes eating' or Cuthbert, who 'is top of the class and we're not crazy about him, but we can't hit him because he wears glasses'). New Yorker and Paris Match artist Semp's droll line drawings reinforce the text's exuberance, and Bell's translation gives the narrative a wry British spin. And there's additional good news: the publisher has scheduled more Nicholas adventures for future release. Ages 9-12. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A favorite in France for decades, these 19 tongue-in-cheek tales...will elicit bursts of laughter from children and adults alike....Liberally endowed with Sempe's tiny, comic cartoon figures, these whimsical mini-adventures will captivate readers..." Kirkus Reviews
"These charming vignettes beg to be shared aloud in a classroom or library setting. A delightful choice for spicing up middle-grade collections and for exposing kids to stories from abroad." School Library Journal
"This gorgeous new cloth-cover volume of the French kids' classic is the perfect...gift for the child (8 to 12) who loves to read." Newsweek
Available to English-speaking children for the first time, this worldwide classic is one of a five-book series that brings to life the day-to-day adventures of a young school boy amusing, endearing, and always in trouble. Illustrations.
About the Author
Born in Paris, René Goscinny (19261977) lived most of his early years in Buenos Aires and New York. He returned to France in the 1950s where he met Jean-Jacques Sempé and together they created the character of Nicholas, the famous school boy. Goscinny later worked with Albert Uderzo on making the adventures of Asterix the Gaul. A prolific and internationally successful children's author, he is also the creator of Lucky Luke and Dingodossiers, among others. He received Cesars for his numerous animated cartoons.
Expelled from school for bad behaviour, Jean-Jacques Sempé (b. 1932) enjoyed a vast range of jobs including wine broker and supervisor at children's holiday camps. His world-renowned illustrations and cartoons are featured on the covers of the New Yorker magazine and amuse the readers of Paris Match and the Figaro Littéraire on a weekly basis.