Adele & Simon in America
Written and illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Farrar, Straus and Giroux; $16.95
40 pp.; ISBN-13: 978-0374399245
Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews
In this second picture book featuring the fun-loving Simon and his older sister Adele, the pair journey from France to visit their Aunt Cecile in New York; the trio then travels the country in turn of the nineteenth century America. From the Boston Public Garden in Boston, MA to a Chinatown grocery store in San Francisco, from the future home of Rocky Mountain National Park to New Orleans and Washington, D.C., detailed and historically accurate illustrations add significantly to the story.
As the book opens, Adele and Simon are packing for their trip, with all of Simon's things strewn on the bed -- a vest, binoculars, a bandana, suspenders, a canteen, a map, a journal, and more. While Adele reminds her brother to keep a close eye on his belongings, anyone who's already familiar with Simon and Adele knows what happens next: as the pair travels around the country with Aunt Cecile, Simon will inevitably lose one item at every stop. Fortunately, author and illustrator Barbara McClintock cleverly conceals the lost item somewhere in the illustration for young readers to search out on their own. Adele's frustration with her brother and almost amusing in the face of her brother's carefree attitude toward it all; fortunately, Aunt Cecile was wise and labeled all of Simon's things with her address so there's a nice surprise waiting when they all return to New York.
In Adele & Simon in America, busy street scenes and landscapes full of detail allow for lots of close examination as readers hunt for say, a bandana among the shoppers and fresh fruit and vegetable displays in the Chinatown marketplace, or the binoculars lost somewhere in the majestic mountaintop overlooking a river in the Rocky Mountains. Older readers, and those with a strong interest in history, nature, and culture will delight in McClintock's appendix to the book, where each illustration is annotated with historical facts and fascinating trivia about the illustrations. For example, the Chicago scene is set at the corner of State and Madison Streets; McClintock touches briefly on why this corner was chosen and also who else can be found in the illustration: Theodore Dreiser, Sarah Bernhardt, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and members of the Chicago Cubs, the 1908 World Series winners. The endpapers of the book are maps of the United States, with the locations visited by Adele and Simon labeled for easy reference.
The perfect follow up to Adele & Simon, this charming trip into American history that doubles as a treasure hunt is lively and engaging and even educational.
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