I thoroughly enjoyed reading this charming story which captured the excitement and elegance of a first visit to Paris as a backdrop to an intriguing adventure. The very best children’s books, in my opinion, enrapture readers with the story but also leave you with some extra nuggets of knowledge, whether that is insight into a particular problem or situation, or new facts to help build an understanding of the world. In this case, author Kate Wilkinson totally immerses the reader into the Paris setting of the adventure. Appropriately for a story in which noticing the little things is of prime importance, her precise descriptions of the city’s architecture and especially the Metro stations enables her readers to picture themselves in the heart of the city, which I feel is a wonderful gift to children who might not be lucky enough to travel to Paris in person. She really does impart a love for the features that characterise Paris, from the metal café furniture to the fantastic displays in the window of a patisserie.
Edie and her father have been fortunate to receive an invitation from Madame Cloutier, the Directrice of the Paris Metro Lost Property Office for an expenses-paid trip as a result of their adventures in book one, Edie and the Box of Flits. Edie is ecstatic when she discovers that best friend Naz can accompany them, although less happy when Dad extends the invitation to Naz’s incredibly irritating little sister Sami. When the two older girls realise that Sami has smuggled three of the English Flits; Pea, Impy and Nid, through the Channel Tunnel in her backpack, they are furious at her for endangering the little people. Sami’s behaviour is particularly stressful for Edie and causes her to be quite rude to Fabien, the grandson of Madame Cloutier, who it transpires has his own bond with the Volettes, as French Flits are known.
Unfortunately, Fabien is not the only Parisian to be aware of the Volettes. Famous artist, Victor Rottier, with his icy blue eyes, crocodile skin boots and artworks featuring dead animals under glass domes, also seems to be aware of their presence and when the children discover the secret of his planned “Grande Révélation” they must work as a team to disrupt his foul scheme. The tension builds beautifully as children and Flits collaborate in a tale woven through with insight and magic.
I loved the chapter headings with their underground map design and station-related titles. The gray-scale illustrations by Joe Berger appear at key moments in the text adding to the drama of the narrative; Victor Rottier’s depiction is alarmingly villainous! At the end of the story there are fabulous facts about both the London Underground and the Paris Metro. I cannot recommend this story highly enough for anyone of 8+, I am sure that it will be a popular choice in Key Stage 2 classrooms and primary school libraries. With half-term arriving, put this story into the hands of a young reader and let them travel by book this holiday period!
I am most grateful to Piccadilly Press and Antonia Wilkinson for my gifted copy of Edie and the Flits in Paris in exchange for my honest opinion.