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1st ed.
Publisher, Date:
New York : Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013.
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 26 cm.
In Paris, France, more than a hundred years ago, a small man named Lalouche is let go from his job as a mail carrier and discovers that he has great skill as a fighter.
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9780375962257 (glb)
0375962255 (glb)

In Paris, France, more than a hundred years ago, a small man named Lalouche is let go from his job as a mail carrier and discovers that he has great skill as a fighter. - (Baker & Taylor)

"A bona fide knockout. C'est formidable!" declares Publishers Weekly in a starred review.

In Paris, France, there lived a humble postman named Lalouche. He was small, but his hands were nimble, his legs were fast, and his arms were strong. When his job was replaced by an electric car, he turned to boxing to support himself and his pet finch, Genevieve. But—"You? A boxer?" the fighters asked. "I could sneeze and knock you down!" Still, Lalouche refused to give up. And perhaps small Lalouche was just nimble . . . just fast . . . and just strong enough to beat his fierce competitors. This is a marvelous story, full of humor and heart, and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, winner of a New York Times Best Illustrated Award.

Includes an author's note with historical information about French boxing and electric cars. - (Random House, Inc.)

Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In Paris, at the turn of the last century, lived a postman named Lalouche. Skinny—but nimble—bony—but with strong arms—he resides with his finch, Geneviève. One day Lalouche turns up at the post office only to learn that an electric auto will replace him on his route. Mon dieu! Who will pay for his rented room? How will he feed Geneviève? When a poster for a boxing club catches his attention, Lalouche has an idea. He shall become a boxer! The club manager is dubious, but what Lalouche lacks in strength, he makes up for in his ability to twist, turn, leap, and squirm. Soon he has beaten the burly stars of the ring: the Anaconda, the Grecque. But when the electric cars prove a bust, he is thrilled to return to his job as postman. The text is more action-packed idea than story, but it neatly serves its purpose as a vehicle for Blackall's amazing artwork. The illustrations, made with Chinese ink and watercolors, are cutouts arranged in layers and then photographed. This gives the spreads a 3-D look, with the effect being more of looking at a diorama than a page in a book. Wonderful details abound, from the expressions on the boxers' faces to the finch flying around the ring. The final scene of Lalouche on the balcony of his new Paris apartment is a delight artistically and emotionally. But we're not quite done: the endpapers feature posters of France's most powerful pugilists in all their punchy glory. Très bien! Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

A help-wanted poster catches the eye of a redundant Parisian postman. "Are you nimble? Are you fast? Are you strong?" Lalouche is all three, and thus begins his career as a boxer. The stylishly funny text demands to be read aloud; the jaunty, kindly pictures in cut-paper collage cast lovely shadows, with the book design giving us ringside seats.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Small, bony Lalouche is a humble and solitary Parisian postman, contentedly delivering mail at the turn of the last century. His only companion in life is his pet finch, Genevieve. When he is made redundant by the technology of the electric autocar, he is desole (a glossary is appended). A poster catches his eye. "Are you nimble? Are you fast? Are you strong?" Lalouche is all three, and thus begins his career as a boxer. The Grecque, the Piston, Ampère, even the undefeated fight sensation the Anaconda -- Lalouche vanquishes them all. Plausible? An intriguing author's note informs us that "la boxe française favored speed and agility over brute strength." The stylishly funny text demands to be read aloud, to release our inner Francophones and for a chance to proclaim, "For country, mail, and Geneviève!" We can almost hear the accordion in the background. The jaunty, kindly pictures in cut-paper collage cast lovely shadows, and the book design gives us ringside seats. sarah ellis

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Lalouche does not start out mighty in the least. A humble postman in 19th-century Paris, "He was small, Lalouche, and rather bony," writes Olshan (Finn), whose effortless prose has a giddy Gallic lilt throughout. And yet, Lalouche's "hands were nimble, his legs were fast, and his arms were strong," qualities that serve him well when he is replaced on his route by an electric autocar and instead finds employment as sparring partner at the Bastille Boxing Club. Soon, the wiry, speedy Lalouche is a boxing champion and the toast of tout-Paris, vanquishing such deliciously named foes as the Anaconda, the Pointillist, and the Misanthrope. It's easy to imagine a book about an unprepossessing civil servant and the belle epoque craze for la boxe française as having a rarified appeal at best, but Olshan and Blackall (Edwin Speaks Up) have created a bona fide knockout. Lalouche is an endearingly oddball hero, and Blackall takes her always-exquisite ink-and-watercolor artwork to another level, creating three-dimensional cut-out scenes that have the intensity of silent film and the magic of an exquisitely crafted toy theater. C'est formidable! Ages 4–8. Illustrator's agent: Nancy Gallt, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

School Library Journal Reviews

K-Gr 3—Lalouche is a Parisian postman living more than 100 years ago. Though diminutive, he is blessed with strong arms, nimble fingers, and fast legs. When he is sacked, thanks to the invention of an electric automobile, he must find a way to support himself and his beloved pet finch, Geneviève. Desperate, Lalouche joins the Bastille Boxing Club. Because he is so small, he is repeatedly underestimated as he continues to win matches against much bigger opponents, including gigantic Anaconda. It is when he fights "for country, mail, and Geneviève" that readers learn, "one should never underestimate a man who loves his finch." The story, along with the language, is entertaining; names like Diamond Jacques and the Grecque, and words like "tomfoolery," will keep readers and listeners amused. Some French is sprinkled throughout, e.g., "C'est impossible," and a glossary helps with translation. The illustrations are outstanding-Blackall has outdone herself. The ink-and-watercolor artwork was cut out, arranged in layers, and photographed, resulting in an eye-catching, textured, three-dimensional effect that children will love poring over. The text and pictures work expertly together, moving the story forward in clever and funny ways; Lalouche's facial expressions alone should elicit giggles from readers. An author's note about the history of French boxing and the invention of the electric car further enhance this captivating tale with a wonderful moral: small people are capable of great feats.—Laura Lutz, Pratt Institute, New York City

[Page 138]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Author Biography

MATTHEW OLSHAN is the author of Finn: A Novel, a modern telling of Mark Twain'sThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with girls as protagonists rather than boys. His latest novelThe Flown Sky, is a fantasy in the tradition of C.S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles. Olshan lives in Baltimore, but also has a little farm in southcentral Pennsylvania, called Pencil Creek. Visit him at

SOPHIE BLACKALL received the New York Times Best Illustrated Award for her bookBig Red Lollipop, and won the Ezra Jack Keats Award for New Talent. She is the illustrator ofMeet Wild Boars, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book; Jumpy Jack & Googily;What's So Bad About Being an Only Child?; Summer Is Summer; Edwin Speaks Up, and others.The Mighty Lalouche was written specifically for Sophie Blackall, after the author discovered that she collected old pictures of boxers, especially "extremely skinny ones with big billowing boxing trunks." A native of Australia, she lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at - (Random House, Inc.)

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