The Eiffel Tower is bored and decides to pick up and fly itself over Paris to “watch the city work and play.” This is the premise of Paris Up, Up and Away from French illustrator and paper and textile designer Hélène Druvert.
Readers follow the Eiffel Tower and see what it sees: world-famous landmarks, such as the Seine, Notre Dame and the Opéra national de Paris, as well as more commonplace city sights, such as a Metro stop, homes and parks. Written in rhyming couplets, the real star of the show here is the art, delicate and ornate paper cuts. Alternating pages serve as backdrops for the cut papers in front of them, all laid out on a stark black-and-white palette (with a bit of greyish-blue). The lasercuts are intricate, even including an Eiffel Tower-shaped hole on the book’s cover.
This book begs the question of audience. Very young children can certainly appreciate it, but the art is entirely too fragile for grabby hands. For instance, in a rainy-day scene, the page includes tiny raindrops and passersby with umbrellas. The raindrops are holes in the paper-cut page, which includes people holding umbrellas, cut from the bottom of the page; this is all resting on an uncut page with more raindrops and a skyline. The actual paper-cut illustration is mighty breakable, though beautiful to behold. Older readers, especially adults (and definitely Francophiles), will appreciate such a lavishly illustrated book.
It closes with a map of major landmarks, which is a part of the book’s very thick back cover. (The front cover is also hefty, surely to protect the finespun papers inside.) Not all of the legendary landmarks noted on the map appear in the book, but all in all, it could serve as a very basic introduction to Paris and its monuments, especially for fans of papercutting.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.