Wednesday, November 04, 2009

French Kids' Friends

For the past couple of weeks, I've been tutoring kids at France Exchange, a Los Angeles institution that has been offering French language programs for over 20 years. Little by little, the house has become filled with all things French for children, including an extensive book collection, with some concessions to local passions - witness the basketball court. It is precisely around this court that you will find the almost life-size figures of some of French children's most beloved characters.
There is the Petit Prince, from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's eponymous little masterpiece, and Tintin with his loyal pooch Milou in tow - for some reason, Milou is called Snowy in the English version of the bande-dessinée (graphic novel/comic strip). Visitors also run into Bécassine, another character all French children are familiar with, though she is not as famous abroad as Tintin or the Petit Prince - now over 100 years old (she first appeared in a comic strip in 1905), Bécassine is youthful as ever.

Sad Update: I was fired. The reason? I am not authoritative enough with the kids - I get the work done, and done well, but I'm not bossy enough. French education could be summed up by this principle, once stated by my high school biology teacher: "In teaching, you can go with the carrot or the stick. I've always liked the stick better."
I'm devastated.

31 comments:

Simply Mel said...

What a wonderful little bit of fun French history!

Angie Muresan said...

I have the entire Tintin collection in both French and English. My son much prefers the French.

Laura in Paris said...

Oh I recall you had Le Petit Prince in different languages!

beckyxoxo said...

adorable ! i never heard of them , but thanks to you now i know ! thank you for sharing :D xooxox .

Mary-Laure said...

ANGIE - I'm glad your little boy enjoys "Tintin et Milou" rather than "Tintin and Snowy."


LAURA - yes I doL I have it in French, English, Chinese and Hungarian.

Debra said...

I recently added the Little Prince to a Lifescape for a client. I had completely forgotten about that one when coming up with my booklist for my sweeties-that's a must. I bet you are having fun with the children.

Laura in Paris said...

I'll see if I can get it in Turquish! I will be visiting Istanbul early December.

Marci said...

Que decirte de estos dos personajes...
comentaba precisamente ayer por e-mail a una amiga, que tengo una pequeña colección de objetos relacionados con ambos, cocmo cajas, ceniceros,sacapuntas...
Un post maravilloso!
Un saludo: de vuevo a la normalidad

giulia said...

Yes, I grew up with both English & French, too, because I started French at 5 years old. (It was not well-taught back then, in most places, alas.) I remember telling my younger sisters that it was 'Milou' & NOT Snowy. Just to make sure they remembered...

...my mother said that I 'defaced' the books with my corrections. I told her it was obviously in the cards for me to become a writer/editor. I just didn't have a blue pencil, but a blue crayon.

When I transferred to a DC university, a young fellow student knew how to woo me. I must've sounded wistful about Tintin, Toblerone, & La Vache Qui Rit. He went on a Tintin hunt at used bookstores, comic bookstores, etc. I had no idea how hard he worked on this until a few years ago. (Yes, we are still friends.)

It was great to see the center...I don't know why, but I never think of LA as having this stuff. East-Coastcentric, here. Sorry. You have enlightened me.:)

xoxo

Susan & GG

J Elaine said...

The children must adore you, they always do! So glad you are able to surround yourself with them.

Slices of Beauty... said...

Lovely, thanks for sharing.

andrea tachezy said...

Little Prince is an international friend :-) In czech too :-)

marie said...

ive always loved tintin, an when i was in paris i bought a (french version of course) of le petit prince. its magical.

vintage simple said...

Oh, Le Petit Prince...! One of my all-time favorites. Ever. Its message and touching sense of magic..! Thank you for reminding me...

-maria

Joyce said...

I'm a big kid at heart, what fun it would be to attend one of your classes. I love Petit Prince! A golden weekend to you and B! xoxo

Angora said...

Tu sais que depuis toujours Jean-Maurice m'appelle "Bécassine".... Loin de me vexer car Bécassine voyage et dérange son petit monde par sa sagacité!! cela me renvoie à mon premier déguisement d'enfant en Afrique ( faut-il que ma mère se soit donné ce mal à tout prendre, elle aurait pu choisir une fée) bref je fus Bécassine pour la vie, photo à l'appui grâce à Laura qui saura te l'envoyer!! Merci de me le rappeller avec plaisir sur ton billet.Kisses.

Angora said...

Il existe " Bécassine chez les TURCS"
bien sûr, la preuve que j'ai bien existé! Marie

Jill said...

lucy is now taking french. wish she could learn with you! i have a feeling you are a wonderful teacher. we love tintin at our house too.

Mary-Laure said...

DEBRA - oh yes it MUST be included on your list!
And another French classic, Astérix, for good laughs.

MARCI - porque no compartis tu coleccion con nosotros en tu blog?

GIULIA - than you SO MUCH for sharing these memories with us, how adorable that you were wooed in a Francophile way!

J ELAINE - you know how much I adore kids!

ANGORA - j'espere que tu possdes ce precieux album, Becassine chez les Turcs! Je veux le voir!
Pour moi tu n'es pas du tout une Becassine, plutot une fantaisiste artiste...

JILL - tell Lucy Benjy and I say "Bonjour!" and send a "bisou" (kiss). I think I'm a pretty decent teacher. When I was living in Cambridge and teaching at Harvard, I won an award for excellence in teaching 4 semesters in a row...

janis said...

Wow, I am sorry to hear this... and you have such wonderful energy too.

Karena said...

A very moving and sweet story... I am teaching 4th grade Junior Achievement Social Studies this year again. The kids are so great!

Sam said...

I have a lot of French Tin Tins - I found it a lovely way to learn French and enjoy my favourite stories - the Little Prince though - oh dear - so sad - I've avoided it for years because I remember it made me weep for days!! I should read it again - it's such a classic!

So sorry to hear you were fired - don't let it get you down - that is their loss really and now you can do other things instead.

Sammi said...

*hugs*

I'm so sorry :o(

Gabbi said...

I'm sorry about the firing dear Mary-Laure, but I'm a firm believer of everything happening for a reason and I'm sure there's a place where they need someone with your heart and state of mind even more. I can't even be strict with George... :^)

giulia said...

Oh, Mary-Laure. I'm so sorry. I did not see this earlier today.

I just took out a bunch about school & university in France so as not to offend. Yes, the dark side is quite dark, sorry to say.

xoxo

Satsuki said...

"Not authoritative enough with the kids" ? What do they want ? Someone yelling at them ? What is this stupid idea of education they have ? I am very sorry for you and the kids. But I am sure you will find some other place where your talents are more appreciated and children are not considered as donkeys !

mansuetude said...

ha, anyone that would take you away from a child in a learning situation is a moron...

people starve from their own stupidity and starve the world!

amazing.

Candace said...

The folks at the French Exchange need to have their heads examined.

What were they thinking?

Their loss.

red said...

But Tintin is not French, but Belgian... :))
So sorry you got fired! What a shame...

Mary-Laure said...

RED - yes, you're right. But he's a hero to French kids...

Alya said...

I never read the Petit Prince, but I do remember there was a brand of chocolate covered biscuits with thr prince on the cover. I loved TinTin though - a byproduct of living in Geneva as a child. As well as Asterix!

You'd never think that French cartoons could be as popular as the American ones, but I think they're fabulous!

I'm so sorry to hear they let you go :( I would imagine you're a wonderful teacher, but alas, we dont always get what we want..