Title: Nanette’s Baguette
Written and Illustrated by Mo Willems
Publisher: Walker Books
RRP: $16.99

Nanette is growing up, for today is the day she gets to get the baguette. Mum gives her the money she needs and she sets off for the baker. Along the way she meets many friends, but she does not forget the baguette. She buys the best baguette and leaves for home, but the baguette smells too good and Nanette tastes a little. Soon there is nothing left and she arrives home upset. Not to worry though, Mum and Nanette return to the baker for another baguette, and this one is also warm and smelling wonderful.

Mo Willems is amazing. He comes up with the most original, inventive picture books for young audiences that are equally appealing, albeit on a different level, to adults. Nanette’s Baguette is quirky and fun. The verbal text, with as many words ending in the ‘-et’ (or ‘-ette’) sound that could possibly be used, is hilarious. It works wonderfully with the visual text which is set in a street made of small, decorated cardboard boxes. From the imprint page: “The images in this story are comprised of photographed handcrafted cardboard-and-paper constructions digitally integrated with photographed illustrations and additions.” The effect is tremendous. Nanette is a likeable character and while the reader may expect the baguette to be nibbled before her return home, there is always a surprise with Mo Willems’ work. Various viewpoints are used in the pictures and Nanette’s facial expressions convey her feelings beautifully. Placement of the pictures emulates the paneling in graphic novels and with the use of speech bubbles and onomatopoeia there is a definite comic book feel.

I love Mo Wilems’s work (can you tell?) and took great joy in sharing this book with my work colleagues and husband. I was like a child carrying around their favourite book! It has great potential for a story time session with young ones, and also for activities in the classroom, or at home. It would make the perfect gift for a young child and a fun one for someone older, especially if they love baguettes!

Check out the YouTibe clip of Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems to catch a behind the scene glimpse of Mo at work.

Activities

  • Make a class diorama of a street scene out of small boxes. Have the children make their own character, or draw themselves, supported by a craft paddle pop stick or cardboard tube roll. They can play with these ‘puppets’, a great oral language activity in itself, or take photos with iPads and sequence into a story.
  • Research the importance of bread in French culture. What types of bread are there and what are they traditionally used for?
  • Make lists of words ending in -et and -ette. Divide lists into words with one, two and more syllables. Use words in a story, or write a class poem.
  • Read other books by Mo Willems. Can you see another character in Nanette’s Baguette?
  • Have children suggest words and names that rhyme with their own name. They can make a story, or poem, starring themselves.
  • Discuss, draw and write about your favourite food.

Many thanks to Walker Books for supplying this book for review.

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