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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

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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