Curiosity and the thirst for adventure run in Arlo’s family. The armadillo’s wanderlust is fuelled by his grandfather Augustin’s travel diaries, which encourage Arlo to explore Paris and, in particular, to seek out the mysterious Dame de Fer. Appearing at the top of the book’s pages, Augustin’s journal entries provide guided directions to such iconic sights as the Arc de Triomphe and the whirlwind of cars circling it; the Louvre’s 1889 World’s Fair exhibit; and the many bridges spanning the Seine. Cryptic clues are poetically woven into the tour: “The Iron Lady is so tall that sometimes she seems to dance in the clouds.”
Arlo’s own sojourn is blithely recounted in brief, third-person commentary full of anticipation and wonderment: “Arlo starts his day with a flaky croissant fresh from the oven. Delicious! He is excited to begin his adventures and his search for the Iron Lady. Who could she be?” At his final destination, the pièce de résistance is dramatically revealed. By holding the book vertically, readers are afforded a double-page view of the Eiffel Tower. Endnotes provide fun trivia about its history and construction.
Toronto author-illustrator Julie Kraulis’s sophisticated oil-and-graphite artwork is chic, with elegant lines and a muted palette of red and blue with splashes of gold. Many hints of Arlo’s quarry are also hidden in the illustrations. While window-shopping along the Champs-Élysées, Arlo gazes at an haute-couture gown that mimics the famous tower’s intricate arch-work design. Several scenes are presented from an aerial perspective that lends the impression of a steady, stately presence watching over the activities of the city.
Informative and charming, An Armadillo in Paris is sure to please armchair travellers who will eagerly await more of Arlo’s globetrotting adventures.