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AllianceFrancaise

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week6

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will share with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Recommendations are found at Culturethèque Digital library. Register here for the Alliance Française member benefit. Join today!

Preschool – Ages 3+

Picouli by Clotilde Bernosol

A boy reaches out to a lonely bird in this story about the universality of friendship. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Beginner A1 / Youth – Adult

Gustave in Paris by Doris Barbier-Neumeister and Lauré Girardin-Vissian (2017)

Perfect for beginning French learners, this fun, light read follows two friends as they discover Paris. Written for youth, adult readers will benefit from the straightforward vocabulary and grammar. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Adult Learners – Multi-level

Les Inrockuptibles

Looking to keep up to date on the latest in the French cultural scene? This hip magazine covers all the latest in film, music, literature, politics, and more. Skim the articles and photos, as a quick way to be in the know– even for those who are not yet fluent.  Culturethèque Digital Library.

Intermediate

Le pays des autres by Leïla Slimani (2020)

Set in Morocco in the 1950s period of decolonization, the novel covers the story of the writer’s own maternal grandparents. The Prix Goncourt winning author (Chanson Douce, 2016) is a journalist, writer, and a French Diplomat as ambassador to the Organisation international de la francophonie. We are thrilled that she is quoted as saying, “My country is language. My country is library. In a library, I feel at home anywhere.” Culturethèque Digital Library.

Advanced

Le Comte de Monte-Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)

Considered a literary classic, the adventure story unfolds during the historical period 1815–1839: the Bourbon Restoration era through the reign of Louis-Philippe. There are many twists, turns, and much tumult–as a wrongfully imprisoned man escapes from jail, and sets about seeking revenge on his false accusers. Culturethèque Digital Library. E-book.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week5

By | Recommendation | No Comments

Every week, our Librarian Renée will share with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Recommendations are found at Culturethèque Digital library. Register here for the Alliance Française member benefit. Join today!

Preschool

Cache-cache by Agnès de Lestrade and Juliette Boulard

Cocotte plays a game of hide-‘n-seek with animal friends and discovers that things are not always as they seem. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Kids – Ages 7+

L’enfant et les étoiles by Xavier Armange and Juan Hernaz

Grandmother and grandchild out on a night time nature walk together encounter a lovely seagull. They imagine the fantastical adventures it would have if only it flew freely throughout the universe. Intergenerational connection, and the power of imagination. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Teens / Adult Learners

Le monde des ados by Fleurus

Enjoy all the latest news on contemporary issues of interest to teens: fashion, culture, current technology, and much more. Geared to age-appropriate readers, it is also an excellent way for French students to learn new vocabulary  Culturethèque Digital Library.

Beginner to Intermediate Level

Les misérables by Victor Hugo (1862) ; Hachette Français Facile, Volumes 1-3

An edited, condensed, and re-imagined adaptation of Hugo’s original masterpiece–the all-time literary classic and social commentary with themes that resonate today. At 200+ pages, the volumes can be considered a warm up to the actual work that weighs in at over 1400 pages. Culturethèque Digital Library. Audiobook.

Intermediate to Advanced

Le sanglot de l’homme noir by Alain Mabanckou (2012)

The award-winning author–born in Congo and who teaches literature at UCLA– explores the challenges facing black people in the world today. Mabanckou examines the legacy of slavery and colonialism, while distancing himself from some accepted narrative. A thought provoking read. Culturethèque Digital Library. 

Advanced

Madame Bovary by Flaubert (1856)

A beautiful young woman, desperate to escape her mundane provincial life, throws caution to the wind in the attempt. Considered Flaubert’s masterpiece, prosecutors initially attacked the work for its less-than-discreet content. Due in part to the controversy, it was an immediate bestseller. A bit of a cautionary tale. Culturethèque Digital Library.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week4

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will shared with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Bonne lecture !

Preschool – 3+ / French Level: Beginner

Une touche de by Laurie Cohen and Marjorie Béal

Time for a little art refresher. Learn (or remember) all about mixing colors in this fun book that encourages creative exploration. Culturethèque Digital Library, Storyplayr audiobook.

Ages 5+ / French Level: Easy – Intermediate

Pourquoi ? Pourquoi ? Pourquoi ? Les animaux by Coline Desclides et Laurence Bernaert

Learn the answer to many pressing questions about the natural world. While geared to children, adult learners will enjoy new vocabulary along with listening to familiar everyday French. Culturethèque Digital Library, Storyplayr audiobook.

Adult Interest / French Level: A2 – Beginner

Les couleurs primaires by Mélissa Verreault

Step out of the mundane with this light read. Set in Montreal, it follows Camille’s humorous adventures in her quest for happiness. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Ages 10 -14 / Adult ; French Level:  Intermediate – Youth/Adult Interest

Un rêve pour trois by Lena Sayaphoum et Jérôme Hamon Pourquoi

This first volume of a beautifully illustrated bande dessinée is the story of two sisters who hope to make it into the prestigious ballet school at the Opéra de Paris. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Adult Interest / French Level:  Intermediate – Advanced

Au revoir là-haut by Pierre Lemaitre et Chrisitian de Metter

The bande dessinée version of the Prix-Goncourt winning historical novel that was also made into a film. Set in France during WWI, the story follows the travails of a soldier and his quest for justice and redemption. Culturethèque Digital Library.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week3

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will shared with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Bonne lecture !

Preschooler – Ages 3+

Je serai Empereur ! by Tulio Corda, edited by Lirabelle

Not satisfied by his mother’s answer to questions about his future, a young chick seeks to convince his barnyard friends that he is destined for greatness. Livre numérique, Culturethèque Digital Library, with Storyplyr audiobook option.

Ages 5 – 10

Le Cerisier by Alba Garcia-Puig, Edited by Ane bâté éditions

This computer game is a combined environmental-science and French lesson. Suitable for children, it highlights current planetary environmental challenges. (Not an escapist adventure) Some French knowledge is required for instructions. Multiple choice, fill in the blank. French: beginner. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Ages 9 – 12/Adult – A1 – French Language Learning

CONCERT EN BRETAGNE / Concert in Brittany  Cécile Talguen, edited by Clé international

Young readers and adult learners will enjoy this adventure mystery story set in Brittany. The fun easy read introduces lots of new vocabulary–and it is set in an ideal place, for those dreaming of escape to vacation getaways. Livre numérique, Culturethèque Digital Library.

Adult – B1/B2 – French Language Learning

Candide, ou L’Optimisme par Voltaire

Feeling ambitious? Settle in to read this literary classic–offered in two versions on Culturethèque. A stinging satire, Voltaire’s social commentary from 1789 has much to say about the social ills of its day. Learners of French will enjoy the Hachette version, with sound. Livre numérique, Culturethèque Digital Library.

Adult – C1/C2 – French Language Learning

Chanson Bretonne, suivi de l’enfant et la Guerre by J.M.G Le Clézio edited by Editions Gallimard – 2020

A new release by a brilliant Nobel-Prize-winning author, this nostalgic escapist literature will transport you to Brittany of another time. Livre numérique, Culturethèque Digital Library.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week2

By | Recommendation | No Comments

Every week, our Librarian Renée will shared with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Bonne lecture !

Preschooler – Ages 3+

La Cuisine de Gudule by Fanny Joly and Rose Capdevila

A precocious girl and her baby brother surprise busy parents with a most delicious dinner concoction. Set in simpler-yet-hectic times. Read-aloud. French: beginner/intermediate.  Storyplayer Audiobook. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Ages 5 – 10

Escape Game: Ma Petite Planète edited by the Institut Français

This computer game is a combined environmental-science and French lesson. Suitable for children, it highlights current planetary environmental challenges. (Not an escapist adventure) Some French knowledge is required for instructions. Multiple choice, fill in the blank. French: beginner. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Ages 9 – 12

Le Monde de Milo by Richard Marazano and Christophe Ferreira.

Join Milo as he explores the many adventures at his riverside wilderness escape. Selected for the Prix de Jeunesse at the Festival Angouleme in 2014, this beautifully-illustrated book is an easy and engaging story. Adults will also enjoy this book. French: beginner to intermediate. Culturethèque Digital Library. This trailer sets the tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD3BbL8KP8A

Adult – A1 – French Language Learning

Français Langue Etrangère: Online Learning Module edited by Toutapprendre.

This self-paced learning course is designed for beginning students who are new to French. A great way to test the waters in preparation for formalized instructor-led classes. Culturethèque Digital Library.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Tartiflette Recipe

By | Frenchness, Recommendation | 2 Comments

By Conery Hoffman

Food is always on the top of my list when traveling and some of my favorite memories include what was on the menu. During college, I spent a weekend in Manigod, a commune located in eastern France. While speaking with a friend about visiting this area, memories from long ago came flooding back of a rather simple, hearty dish made of potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons and onions that is eaten – and celebrated – in the Alps. It turned out my friend is from this area of France and is also quite the tartiflette master. You can imagine what happened next. I asked him to make it.

In 2015 on a crisp winter day, we decided to hold a dinner for 10 and dubbed it fête de la tartiflette. Who knew a regional dish of no significance at the time, from so many years ago, would become an important part of our lives. We now host this fête annually, which has turned out to be an extremely lively, and a little boozy, fun party. To learn how to make tartiflette, check out this video clip and when everyone is able to gather once again, invite your good friends and family over, pour some crisp Aprémont, put on some dance music and conjure up the Alps!

Note: Réblochon is unavailable in the U.S. It doesn’t fit the FDA’s pasteurization guidelines -substitute w/raclette.

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will shared with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Bonne lecture !

Preschooler

Qui a vu l’ours? by Jean Alessandrini et Sophie Kniffke  

Preschoolers learn their colors with the help of an adorable white bear. In French, Culturethèque Digital Library, Storyplayer Audiobook.

Ages 6 – 9 – Difficulty: Beginner

Les aventures d’Albert et Folio : An heureux évènement by Didier Eberle et André Treper

A pair of house cats await a new arrival. Digital Book, In French. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Adults / Children- Difficulty: Easy – Intermediate

Le petit Nicolas by Goscinny

Escapist adventure stories focus on Nicolas and friends, following their escapades in idyllic 1950s France. Written for children, the series is also entertaining for adults.  Simple vocabulary and sentence structure. In French. Available in the Library.

Adults – Difficulty: Intermediate

Ghost in love : novel by Marc Levy ; illustrated by Pauline Lévêque

Impossible adventures unfold as a son drops everything to fulfill the wishes of his father who returns as a ghost. A story of the power of love, grief, and resilience. In French. Available in the Library.

Adults – Difficulty : Advanced

Le mythe de Sisyphe : essai sur l’absurde / Mythe of Sisyphe by Albert Camus

A classic philosophical discussion of the condition of man. Surprisingly optimistic in its eventual conclusion, it remains heavy reading nonetheless. Available in the Library. Check with the librarian for online versions.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Some more Frenchness in your life

By | Frenchness | No Comments

Needing a little more French in your life right now? 

We created a couple of photos that you can use as your screensaver, Zoom background or Microsoft team background that help you share the love of all things French. 

How to use our backgrounds:

Download your favorite images by clicking on them and saving them, then choose your image.

Here is the guide on how to add a Zoom Background.

Here is the guide on how to add a background on Microsoft Teams.

We can’t wait to see them in events, your French classes, or hear how you are using them at home. 

Want more French? 
Check out our upcoming events or check out our French classes.

Château de Chambord
Paris
The Eiffel Tower
Nice, France
The Alliance Française de Chicago
Inside of the Alliance Française de Chicago

Kids’ books for International Dance Day

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To celebrate #InternationalDanceDay, our Librarian Renée compiled a list of books related to dance, for children aged 3 to 14 years old. All the books are available on Culturethèque, an online library for Alliance Française members.

International Dance Day is a global celebration of dance, created by the International Theatre Institute, UNESCO’s partner of performing arts. It is celebrated annually on April 29th to promote art and culture and raise awareness about dancing. Why is it celebrated on this day? Because April 29th marks the anniversary of the birth of Jean-Georges Noverre, a French dancer and balletmaster, considered the creator of modern ballet.

Danse avec les feuilles par Isabelle Simon. Educational, creative and imaginative picture-book story about nature’s “dance” with different types of leaves as the principal characters. Audiobook, Storyplayr, 3 years and up.

Dansez vieux géants par Gerard Moncomble et Sarah Mercier.  A story of overcoming fears. The kindly, fearful giants learn to dance as they embrace the unknown with the help of community. Audiobook, Storyplyr, 5 years and up.

Ou êtes-vous Monsieur Degas par Eva Montanari. Ballet-dancer Eva goes looking for her backpack when a famous artist inadvertently picks it up. Surprisingly, she encounters Caillebotte, Monnet, Renoir, and Mary Cassatt along the way. Audiobook, Storyplyr, 5 years and up.

Danse avec moi par Isabelle Bottier. A young teen finds her special niche within her accomplished family and among her friends through the mastery of hip-hop dance. Digital Bande Dessinée. Geared to a young audience,  Ages 11 – 14.

To give you an idea of what Culturethèque looks like:

Bonne lecture, and happy International Dance Day!

8 French-language comics that helped me learn French

By | Language, Spotlights | One Comment

By Matthew Jackson, AF staff

Much like Barbie once said of math class, French is tough! I took class after class in a long trajectory from middle school to college and wasn’t confident enough to read a full novel until somewhere around my second college-level course. But during that period where I was still trying to sort out my passé composés from my imparfaits, and when the subjonctif was still the dreaded word du jour, I found myself reading a lot of French comics. Why comics? Well, they’re reliably understandable, for starters. The visual aspect helped me follow the narrative even when I didn’t pick up on every piece of dialogue or description. Picking up an issue of Tintin was also far less intimidating than diving into a Camus or a Collette – which is not to imply that comics are trivial, just that there’s a lower barrier to entry. When Stendahl felt out of reach, Hergé did not. I still maintain that delving into the world of comics is one of the best ways for easing yourself into a new language, and given that France has a huge market for the medium, there’s all manner of things to choose from without limiting yourself to superheroes and spectacle. A whole slew of genres, styles, and stories live under the label of bande dessiné and it’s a world worth venturing into if you’re curious about putting your French skills to the test. Here are some of the comics and graphic novels that helped me practice my French – without feeling like homework!

The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé

Recommended if you like Indiana Jones, The Maltese Falcon, or just a good caper.

Tintin is ubiquitous for a reason. The escapades of this cowlicked-young reporter and his adorable dog Snowy (who can sort of talk but everyone mostly ignores that) are upbeat, straightforward, and reminiscent of great adventure stories from Jules Verne to John Huston. Every issue features our globe-trotting protagonist visiting a new locale and embroiling himself in local drama, which is full of lighthearted slapstick and some great sightseeing. Some issues have aged better than others (Tintin’s adventures in the Congo reflect, let’s just say, some pretty antiquated colonial views), but the series as a whole remains charming and easy to pick up. It’s also great for learning some very specific nouns (do YOU know how to say “ice pick” in French?), and the irascible Captain Haddock’s inventive approach to cursing will have you picking up some great sea-dog slang. Mille milliards de mille sabords! 

Pyongyang, Chroniques birmanes, or Jérusalem by Guy Delisle