I have a special treat for the kids back home in the States: a photo tour of the Paris scenes in one of their favorite books, Stealing Magic (Random House 2012) by Marianne Malone.
In addition to my year-long adventure in Paris, I am also a bookseller back in the United States. Some of my bookstore’s most popular children’s books are by Illinois art teacher and author Marianne Malone, including 68 Rooms and Stealing Magic.
Malone’s books start out in the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. During a field trip to the “68 Rooms” at the Art Institute, Malone’s young characters find a magical key that enables them to shrink and time travel through the miniature rooms.
In Stealing Magic, the children time travel through Thorne Room E-27, French Library of the Modern Period, 1930s, and find themselves in Paris during the 1937 World’s Exposition. They tour the fairgrounds located at the feet of the Eiffel Tower and befriend a young Jewish girl named Louisa. When Ruthie and Jack time travel back to the United States, they realize they must return to 1930s Paris to warn their friend Louisa about the rising Nazi threat in Europe. It’s a wonderful story with a blend of history, danger, art and adventure.
As a treat for all of the 68 Rooms fans back in the States, I mapped out the scenes in the book, and took my camera to the Trocadéro neighborhood for a Stealing Magic literary tour of Paris.
Marianne Malone does a wonderful job of portraying Paris life in the 1930s, from the baguettes in the bicycle baskets to the fashionable women in their high heels and skirts. I couldn’t help but smile when she described the small elevator in Louisa’s apartment building: “the accordion-style metal gate . . . only big enough for two,” because for me, that lovely little detail seems to capture the essence of Paris apartment life, whether it’s 1937 or 2012.
Stealing Magic also teaches grade school children about Nazism and the Holocaust in an age appropriate way. When Louisa’s mother expresses her disbelief about the danger and says: “But surely Hitler can’t control Paris,” we are reassured that Ruthie and Jack know better. It makes for a good story, and at the same time, a valuable learning opportunity.
I highly recommend Stealing Magic and I hope you enjoyed the photo tour.