I love Anne Michaels’ novels (Fugitive Pieces and The Winter Vault) and so was excited to hear she had written her first children’s story. The Adventures of Miss Petitfour is a slim book, comprising several short tales of Miss Petitfour, who lives with her sixteen cats and likes best to travel by tablecloth. The accompanying illustrations by Emma Block are sweet and pastel and help bring these whimsical tales to life.
They’re certainly not adventure stories and they’re not even that exciting. (Which isn’t to say that they aren’t fun and they’re certainly delightful.) They involve eating biscuits shaped like leaves, attending a festooning festival, a cat who loves cheese, and an explosion at a confetti factory (the most exciting event of them all). They’d make perfect bedtime stories. While they’re probably not for every child, I think they would have a lot of appeal to kids who like sweet, happy stories that are a little goofy. Which is exactly the kind of story I loved as a child.
While the book was published in 2015, Miss Petitfour and her adventures have a sort of old world charm, reminding me a little of Mary Poppins. Block’s colourful drawings add to this feeling. Michaels plays a little with language, using some big words (for the target audience, at least, which I would put at about age 6-10) and drawing attention to them by colouring the text and including their definitions in the story. She defines several of these words in accurate but amusing ways as well as poking a bit of fun at some of the conventions of story-telling that even little kids will recognize.
I enjoyed reading Miss Petitfour aloud and Pearl enjoyed looking at the pictures. I think in a couple of years we’ll try this one again at bedtime.