Antoinette

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Antoinette Book Poster Image
Fun with pups in Paris as girl pooch saves the day.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Art depicts Paris, with some cultural landmarks such as the Louvre and the Winged Victory of Samothrace statue. Some French words such as "boulangerie" and "chocolatier" on signage of stores on street, and character says, "Très bien." Alliteration in text calls attention to consonant sounds. Dogs use their sense of scent to get information.

Positive Messages

Mothers know that each of their children is special. All individuals have something they're good at. Friends protect friends from danger.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The mom is supportive of Antoinette and tells her, "You have something extra special." All the pups use their strengths to try to find their lost friend. Antoinette discovers her special talent by trying to help others. Though her brothers' talents are more obvious earlier on, Antoinette is the one who saves the day. Antoinette doesn't give up and is brave.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Antoinette, by Kelly DiPucchio (Grace for President) and Caldecott Honoree Christian Robinson (Last Stop on Market Street), is a sequel to their book Gaston featuring pups in Paris. This one focuses on Antoinette, who solves a mystery by following her nose to a famous statue at the Louvre, the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Because Antoinette's brothers all have obvious talents, when Antoinette herself "discovered what she was good at," the book becomes a celebration of girl power and of finding your own unique strengths.

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What's the story?

In ANTOINETTE, each of Antoinette's bulldog brothers has a special trait that distinguishes them. One is clever, one is fast, and one is strong. But "unlike her burly brothers, she still hadn't quite discovered what she was good at." Her mom is confident she has something extra-special. When they go to the park and play with the poodle family, one of the poodle sisters, Ooh-La-La, chases a butterfly and goes missing. The bulldog brothers put their skills to use trying to find her, but Antoinette follows her nose, sniffing the scent trail to the Louvre, where Ooh-La-La has chased the butterfly to the edge of the wing of the famous statue the Winged Victory of Samothrace. While saving her friend from a bad fall, Antoinette discovers her own special skill, and she grows up to become a famous police dog: "Well done, Antoinette."

Is it any good?

This combo of cute, rambunctious pups and scenic, sophisticated Paris is a fun one, with messages about persistence, bravery, and discovering your strengths. Author Kelly DiPucchio imbues Antoinette with style, addressing readers directly. About the pups, she says, "Busy, aren't they? And ridiculously cute, but please don't tell them that." She even builds an instant replay into to the climactic scene -- "Would you like to see that again?" -- setting up a spread of close-ups of Antoinette's brave save.

Christian Robinson's art is always a pleasure, and here he has lots of fun using simple, blocky shapes to construct the cityscape. His Paris is diverse, peopled with folks of all races enjoying the cafés and crowding the Louvre. On one street, a woman in a head scarf drives past a female garbage collector. With cute pups for the kids, and Paris for the parents, this book is sure to please all.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the special traits each of the dogs has in Antoinette. Do you have something that you're good at? What is it?

  • Where do you think the book takes place? What are the clues in the art and the text?

  • Have you read the book Gaston? Why do Antoinette and Gaston look different from their brothers and sisters? What traits do their families have in common?

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