Author: Véronique Boisjoly
Illustrator: Katty Maurey
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: September 1, 2013
Source: NetGalley and Edelweiss
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Francis is a very fancy fox. He even dresses up to do laundry, which he and his father do at Mr. Li's Small Socks Laundromat. But it's not all smooth sailing on laundry days. Franis is used to doing laundry at home, and the new laundromat has a lot of rules. Plus there's Lily Rain Boots, Mr. Li's granddaughter. She's always playing tricks and causing mischief. Still, Francis is a good sport and enjoys spending Saturdays with his father (and away from his sister Lola).
There's not much I didn't love about this book. The characters are wonderful, the illustrations are beautiful, and the story is both charming and easy to relate to, especially for city kids (it reminds me of Knuffle Bunny in that respect).
Plus there's something subtle and wonderful about the set up. Francis has had to get used to the laundromat ever since his father moved into an apartment. Is it because his parents have divorced? Has the family had to downsize? Or have they simply moved to a new city? The author doesn't say, which makes for a story that many children could relate to for a variety of reasons.
The same goes for the character of Lily. She clearly spends a lot of time at her grandfather's laundromat, possibly while her parents are at work, and she behaves the way many children who spend a lot of time in their parents' stores behave. She's comfortable there, she amuses herself, but she gets bored and has to find ways to entertain herself, even if it means playing tricks on the customers. When Magda read this, she immediately thought of the little boy she met at a small Middle Eastern restaurant here in Halifax. He was about her age and he was riding a tricycle around and around the restaurant while we ate while his parents cautioned him not to bother anyone. Magda thought it was fantastic. She couldn't believe the boy's luck that he got to bring a bike to a restaurant, until I explained to her that it was probably his parents' place and he probably spent a lot of time there. She still thought it sounded fantastic.
Magda's favourite part: The character of Lily Rain Boots, the mischievous granddaughter of Mr. Li, who owns the laundromat. "I really like the name Lily Rain Boots. And she wears rainboots!"
My favourite part: The gorgeous illustrations with a colour palette that would make Wes Anderson swoon. Also, the fact that the sentient fox is not particularly crafty, wily, sly or any of the other stereotypes applied to fictional sentient foxes.
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