Lonely Planet Not For Parents Paris 1st Ed.: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know Paperback – Oct 1 2011
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"Paris: Everything you ever wanted to know" covers a wide range of topics: the history of the city, key architectural highlights, interesting streets and districts, quirky shops, famous works of art, the everyday lives of Parisians and key inventions . The book is in full colour with many photographs and illustrations and includes a comprehensive index.
While there's plenty of educational text, it's written and presented in an upbeat and quirky way. Some of the many cool facts that my kids enjoyed reading about are the hotel for dogs, crazy French food, the bone-filled catacombs, the Tour de France, the way that the Basilica of Sacre Coeur cleans itself and the french habit of jumping in fountains on hot days.
Whether you're preparing for a trip or just interested in learning more about the world, this is a fantastic addition to a child's library. The entire series is terrific, but this one is especially good. My seven year old is now desperate to go to Paris!
The contents of this book cover all of the most famous Parisian monuments: the Eiffel Tower, the Arc of Triumph, Notre Dame Cathedral. It also gives information about lesser known sites: The Catacombes, Pere LaChaise Cemetery, Les Puces and more. It's really packed full of information.
The reading style is very casual and you won't find more than a few sentences on each of the different topics. A lot of the information comes in speech bubbles that accompany many of the drawings and photos. It's quick and concise to read.
This book would not be useful to completely plan a trip. It doesn't give a lot of the information that more traditional guidebooks give. You won't find hotels, or popular restaurants or any information on local cab companies. You will find a lot of history, fascinating tidbits of information and interesting places to see on a trip to Paris.
I'd highly recommend it to accompany a traditional guidebook. It is completely appropriate for children of approximately 7 years of age and older as it's more of an independent reading book, rather than a read aloud.
Moving on a bit, we encounter a chapter called, "Guarded by Gargoyles."(pages 280-29) Once again, we find about ten picures with text scrunched in between. There is an architectural drawing of Notre Dame, with a small cartoon character of the Hunchback of Notre Dame standing in front saying, "Had a hunch you'd be here." There is a color photo of the Portal of the Last Judgement, in Notre Dame. There is a photo of one of the gargoyles, perching on a high ledge. The gargoyle has a cartoon thought balloon, and it is thinking, "I msut do something about my posture." There is a photograph of a disc embedded in the ground in front of Notre Dame, which indicates the geographical center of Paris. There is a photo of a stained glass window in Notre Dame, where the text reads, "This is one of the three stained glass rose windoes in the cathedral that have survived almost 800 years of fire, war, revolution . . ." There is a cartoon drawing of the larged of the bells in Notre Dame, and the text tells us that it is, "the Emmanuel Bell, which tips the scales at over 28,000lb (13,000kg), not including its hammer, which weighs as much as a Citroen 2CV." (the reader is supposed to know that the Citroen is a French automobile.) There is a colorized photograph from the film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the text informs us that, "the main character is the cathedral's bell-ringer, Quasimodo."
This book is especially configured to have an intellectual appeal and an emotional appeal for children. The wealth of obscure facts, once read, will give the juvenile reader the impression that he or she is more aware of certain facts than his parents. The array of graphic styles, that is, straight drawings, cartoon drawings, color photographs, archaic black and white photos, and photos with cartoon characters integrated into the scene, is attractive to children. As I recall, from my own reading of children's books, during the 1950s, is that I liked the RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT books, which are infested with little drawings and obscure facts, and that I liked science workbooks, where cartoons and serious facts are integrated together. PARIS EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW is indeed a kid's book, and it is a very attractive one. However, unlike other books from LONELY PLANET, it does not contain maps, lists of restaurants and hotels, and there is no attempt at any inclusive disclosure of museums and such. Only select highpoints are shown in this book.
On the other hand, I found the spastic, graphic-novel-esque approach off putting. I know the series is trying to capture the attention of a reading group who've grown up in the Internet age and become bored after 30 seconds of anything, but I'm not a fan of the ploy. There's just too much going on on the page, to the point where frequently I didn't even know where to begin. Moreover, I found the jokes corny and several of the cartoons downright inappropriate, even for someone of my age, let alone a kid. Take for instance the man lying in a pool of blood with his tongue hanging out of his mouth and a sword impaling him to illustrate how Louis XVI's chef killed himself. And don't even get me started on all the bloody decapitated heads.
Still, I do plan to revisit this book before traveling to France again, and anything that piques young people's interest in a culture I adore holds some merit with me. "Not-for-Parents Paris" isn't for everyone, but it probably is something parents, despite the title, will want to approve before passing along to younger kids or those of a sensitive nature.