Hello, Mr. Hulot

David Merveille. North-South (Ingram, dist.), $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7358-4135-2
In a wordless graphic novel–style picture book, French artist Merveille (Jukebox) brings to a new audience the mid–20th century French cinema icon Monsieur Hulot, created and portrayed by actor Jacques Tati. More than 20 stories appear, told in groups of panels on a single page, followed by a page turn that supplies the punch line. Flat artwork and a quiet palette suit the austere post-WWII setting as Hulot ambles through Paris in a Walter Mitty–like alternate reality, his trusty umbrella at the ready. He buys a snow globe one beautiful spring day, turns it over, and starts a real snowstorm. He tries in vain to hook a prize fish at a carnival, then hooks one on his umbrella without realizing it after he turns away. Many episodes depend on references that may require parental explanations, like French military parades that require onlookers to salute patriotically, footprints from the first moonwalk, or Don Quixote tilting at windmills. Older readers though, will find this a rewarding cross-cultural comic experience—and Tati fans will sigh with delight at the stories’ many whimsical ironies. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/24/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
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