The ten year old book

(The boats and one of the cathedrals at Auxerre)

We’re in the town (could be a city) of Auxerre, it’s really lovely. The camper parking is just basic but the location is brilliant! Out the front window at the moment I can see narrowboats on the river. If I step outside I can hear horse chestnuts falling from the trees. Then there’s the cathedrals – four I can see across the river and they’re not small, they look to me like they could rival Notre Dame in Paris. This town must have been very important, maybe it still is.

(Still some left on the tree)

We got here around 10am, we had been on our way to a small village but I had a document to sign and post to the accountant. When I took down the printer I realised someone (that would be me…) hadn’t brought the power lead.. Big town might have a print shop or a library and that’s why we’re here.

(Love this house)

Off I went to the tourist off to inquire, it’s just across the river. There was a very helpful sign in the window saying it was closed, permanently. Right. There was an address for the new location, though. I set off for that.

(The games shop)

I was busy taking pictures of the beautiful old half-timbered buildings when I noticed a board game shop. I think to myself, Denis will be delighted! But even more amazing right beside it a craft shop with crafting sessions! It was closed… don’t worry it’ll be open later, I’ll be back.

(Very fancy clock tower)

More pictures and I’m now standing outside a book shop. Normally I’d be straight in as I love book shops but as I have the reading ability of a disinterested 4 year old (in French I mean) I resist. But there’s an adorable window display for a children’s book. It’s celebrating the fact that the book is 10 years old. Interesting.

(That’s the craft shop)

Very interesting. Children’s books are very interesting. To me, anyway. There are children’s books that never seem to go out of fashion. I’m thinking of the Hungry Caterpillar written and illustrated by Eric Carle, first published in 1969 and still selling all over the world. And there’s the French Little Prince written and illustrated by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, first published in 1943. There’s something about those books in their simplicity that makes them popular.

(That’s the book shop, the golden boot must mean something?)

I have to go in. Here’s a chance to see what a child of France in the 21st century cherishes, I feel like David Attenborough. There were a few customers in the shop, mostly under 5, so I fit right in. I spot our section, down low near the window. It takes me a while to locate the correct shelf because now I’m on all fours. Although there a big splash in the window, inside the shop the book is very discreet. And complicated…. there’s other books. It seems the author and the illustrator have published many, many other books about the same character in the ten years since they started but I feel I need to get to the source. To the one that started everything.

(Strange carving)

There’s no escape I have to find some French words to ask the lady behind the counter what was the first book but even in English that might be hard to explain. I give it a try. At first she seems confused but like all book shopkeepers she can read minds (try asking one for the new book they talked about on the radio about coffee and money – I bet they’ll know) and she searches for the colour change book. Just when it seems she can’t find it and I’ll never know, she takes apart the front window and gives me the shop’s only copy. All book shopkeepers are heroes!

(The 10 year old book!)

The book is called Le Loup qui changer de couleur by Orianne Lallemande and Éléanore Thuillier and it’s about a wolf who didn’t like his colour so he changed it, lots of times but in the end… I don’t want to spoil it for you so I’ll say no more. All I will say is the future of France is in good hands, the children are reading a beautiful book.

From Auxerre, Mairead.

(There’s Auxerre!)

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