Hudson is the consummate Parisian. He’s a gourmet — he loves good food. He’s a cinéphile — he loves classic movies. And he’s a flâneur — he loves his adopted city, which he’s explored from one end to the other. One day Hudson encounters a lost puppy and graciously offers to help him find his way home. But after an unsuccessful search throughout Paris he realizes his new friend is homeless. It takes all of his talents and his love of cinema to solve this dilemma in Hudson and the Puppy: Lost in Paris, the latest Paris-Chien Adventure by Jackie Clark Mancuso.
The story really begins several years ago when Mancuso lived in Paris. Like many Americans before her, she was having a hard time communicating. Even though she had studied French for years, Parisians spoke too fast for her to follow and looked puzzled when she spoke. She felt discouraged and began spending time in Jardin du Luxembourg drawing dogs. One night she had a dream. An American dog comes to Paris but can’t make any canine friends because he doesn’t speak French. He’s devastated and wants to go home. She woke up and started sketching out the story that became Paris-Chien, Adventures of an Expat Dog.
The book enjoyed immediate success among dog lovers, Francophiles and connoisseurs of art. Reviewers waxed rhapsodic about the illustrations, seeing the influence of Maira Kalman and Matisse. Others noted that it struck a universal chord showing how it feels to be the new kid in any situation where one has to adapt. Teachers and librarians appreciated the petit dictionnaire at the back of the book for children beginning to learn French.
When readers asked for more stories, Mancuso drew upon visits to her husband’s family in Ménerbes. His uncle was the great painter Nicolas de Staël. Hudson in Provence chronicles city dog Hudson’s encounters with the sheep-herding and truffle-hunting country dogs of Provence.
Mancuso is very conscious of the influence books have on fertile young minds, and hopes to present them with humane messages. Each book tackles situations children commonly face, and uses the resourceful Hudson as guide. “Children love dogs and they are a wonderful mirror of human behavior. What better way to model empathy and kindness than through the adventures of a small, friendly dog.”
Mancuso realizes that her most important task is to capture young readers’ attention. She laughs, “Kids are not going to stick around for the message if they don’t fall in love with the paintings.” And that brings up another goal: introducing children to art. “I started drawing and painting when I was little and read children’s books that inspired me and took me to foreign lands. I’d like my books to do the same. That’s why it makes me happy to see my books in art museums.
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