Mr Leon's Paris takes kids on an international trip


Your family is going on vacation this year. It’ll be a lot of fun.

Already, your Mom has been telling you about things you’ll see and the people you’ll meet. You’ve seen this place on a map and now you’re trying to decide what you’d like to do while you’re there.

But what if you could stay home and visit any city in the world? In the new book “Mr Leon’s Paris” by Barroux, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, you’ll see how one man did just that in a little orange car.

For many years, Mr. Leon criss-crossed the city of Paris in his taxi. He’d been doing it so long, in fact, that he remembered when TV only showed black-and-white programs. He’d been doing it so long that everybody knew him by name. He racked up a lot of miles in his orange taxi and he saw glimpses of other countries and cultures from around the globe. He also saw some strange customers through the years.

A cool guy wrapped in a lot of bandages wanted a ride to Cairo Street once. A bunch of bad guys wanted a long ride to Bad Boys’ Road and Great Gangster Street. A pair of lovebirds wanted to go to China Street, then to Peking Passage, and Mr. Leon was happy to take them there. Once, a woman with her arms full of fowl asked him to take her to Cockerel Avenue, then to 9 Hen Road from Chicken Street, and Mr. Leon did. He loved his job and never had a “spot of bother.”

On Monday, Mr. Leon took Mr. Slimane to 10 Morocco Street, and Mr. Slimane always said “Salam alaikum” when he departed the taxi. On Tuesdays, Henri the handyman got a ride to Hammer Yard. On Wednesdays, a hairdresser went to Scissor Row, Thursday was Captain Scott’s day to go to Englishman’s Street. And Friday was the day Mr. Leon picked up a beautiful woman at Princess Court .

Mr. Leon had been driving his cab for many, many years and he never had an accident or even a scratch. He was very proud of his work but then, he traded his taxi for another kind of ride.

“Mr Leon ’s Paris ” is quite a quirky little book.

Originally released in France, there’s a British feel with American flair here, thanks to the translator; and the author uses color very sparingly. From a kids’ point of view, neither of these features are very appealing but the story itself, I think, is decent enough to hold a child’s interest — particularly if he’s fascinated with taxis or vehicles in general. Still, I wonder if the age group for whom the book is meant (5- to 7-year-olds) will truly understand its sight-gags and gentle humor.

Overall, this isn’t a bad book, but it’s not for every kid. Most children would probably reach for something else, but I think that if your preschooler or early-gradeschooler loves anything with a motor, reading “Mr Leon’s Paris” is a trip he’ll want to take.