It’s the fourth day of December and I am thrilled to share a gorgeous vintage story that I finally found during my Thanksgiving holiday travel. A sweet innocent Christmas tale about a little girl and her pet sheep, Patapon, awaiting the arrival of Noël and the presents it might bring. Take a peek at Noël for Jeanne-Marie by Françoise, 1953.
Winter has arrived and Jeanne-Marie eagerly awaits Noël, the birthday of little Jesus and the extra fun of Father Noël bringing gifts for the good children. She contemplates if her gift will be a pretty new red kerchief for her head, or maybe a doll carriage to carry her white sheep in, or most of all, she longs for a nativity set with all the little “santons” or characters of the manger. Patapon, the white sheep, is fretful about the event as he does not have wooden shoes to place by the chimney and fears he will be left out. His sweet owner sees to preparing them both however and neither are disappointed on the bright Christmas morning.
The text is perhaps a bit long for the average modern day reader, but it is such a charming story and the colorful, cute illustrations are just darling alongside it. The anticipation and longings of the little Jeanne-Marie are childlike and incredibly sweet in their 1950s naivety of desires. I don’t know many children nowadays who would request and hope for a nativity set and figurines!
I have long admired the work of Françoise whose full name is Françoise Seignobosc, but all her books are signed with just her first name. She was a French-American author and illustrator that has very little biographical information on the internet. There are, however, about 40 picture books of her creation published between the 1930s and 1960s and they all drip with her delightfully folksy and inherently French charm. The colors are so deeply vibrant! I have been on the lookout for her books and was thrilled to add this to our Christmas shelves. I love the quietness, the innocence, and the French touch combining the birthday of Jesus with their version of Santa. Perhaps we shall teach our daughter to dance around on Christmas morning shouting “Noël! Noël! Noël!” along with little Patapon!
Follow along our book adventure at 25 Days of Christmas in 2013.