Saturday, June 23, 2012

Le Petit Nicolas at L'Hôtel de Ville

A sketch from 2009, when I had the surprise treat of attending the Le Petit Nicolas show at l'Hôtel de Ville. There are many reasons why adults love Le Petit Nicolas. Sempé wrote: “L’univers du Petit Nicolas est un monde idéal. C’est l’enfance que Goscinny et moi aurions voulu avoir.” (The universe of Petit Nicolas is an ideal world. It’s the childhood that Goscinny & I would have wanted to have.)

It was the 1st French novel that I was able to read, about 7 years ago. (not sure how much I've progressed since...) Students of French & native speakers, love Nicolas' informal & enthusiastic language. 

Little Nicolas interprets situations with an innocence that makes adults laugh. The boys are always getting into messes & fighting, but, as Sempé wrote, without real harm. “Ces gosses sont...toujours à se battre mais leurs coups de poing ne font pas mal.” The antics of the adults, as seen by Nicolas, are funny too. "On ne peut pas s'empêcher de rire lorsqu'on écoute le petit Nicolas raconter ses multiples aventures, avec la naîveté et la candeur d’un en enfant qui semble ne pas très bien saisir l’importance de tous ses actes et les réactions qu’ils entraînent auprès des adultes.

On display were original drawings & text pages, as well as Goscinny's & Sempé's tools. Goscinny wrote everything on a typewriter, bought in NYC in the 40's, that he loved as a pianist loves  his or her piano. 
Photo from Wikipedia 
An extra treat for me was listening in on an interview by an American reporter with Goscinny’s son in law, Aymar du Chatenet. He said that French kids learn to read their language with Nicolas. He wasn’t sure why the translated English version didn't become popular in England & America, in the way that other foreign versions have succeeded. Indeed I had found that the English translation lacked the charm of the French, while the Polish one, Milolajek retained it. Translated editions in some 30 languages, were displayed at the show.

 You can buy "un tas de" Petit Nicolas products. I do like the postcards, but none of the spin off objects match the books themselves.

 The film version came out in 2009, but, à mon avis, the best part is the animated title sequence. To see it, click here


  1. We were treated to Sempé's collection at the Hôtel de Ville in janvier! I even managed to translate a few captions so I could chuckle along with the French! :)

    I love your blog!

  2. Je suis d'accord avec toi, l'animation du titre du Petit Nicolas est excellente. Je désire ajouter que dans certains lycées américains, les élèves lisent un des livres du Petit Nicolas et en adorent les histoires.


Thank you for your comments! They mean a lot to me!