The bug continues to bite… city illustrations in Rapido’s Next Stop

posted in: Jean-Luc Fromental, Joelle Jolivet | 14

Rapido’s Next Stop by Jean-Luc Fromental, illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet is the latest dose of medicinal reading, helping me manage my chronic condition (Biblio-urbanitus: Having a huge weakness for illustrations of cities).

A lift-the-flap book (translated from French and created by the same team as behind that all time favourite of ours which is 365 Penguins), Rapido’s Next Stop follows a day in the life of a a delivery van.

Rapido travels the length and breadth of a continental looking city making a huge variety of deliveries – from globes to cash registers, baseballs to balls of wool. At first glance the book appears to be virtually wordless, but then the reader discovers the flaps, and inside each flap a little game:

Short rhymes are completed with pictures, as if written in a code: It’s just one of the many playful aspects of this book. Published in a large format (bigger than A4 – which is always exciting even if it makes it tricky to put on shelves), the illustrations are especially appealing; whilst they are bold (with lots of thick black lines and sparing use of just 4 colours), they are also detailed. The flap locations on each page are not immediately obvious and searching for them is another game-like part of this book.

The illustrations and playful nature of this book are why you should definitely seek it out. The text, as I believe the examples above show, is a weak point. The rhymes are often somewhat clunky, and even where they do work, it’s clear this books has been translated for a North American audience rather than a British one e.g. the use of “yarn” rather than “wool”, “theater” rather than “theatre”, and “tire” rather than “tyre”. As a result this book is neither an easy read aloud (even now I am familiar with the text I find my tongue tripping), nor an straightforward book for a young (non North American) reader to read themselves.

Whilst the text is a disappointment, the book is still very much worth seeking out. If you have a child who loves “brrrrmmmming” their toy cars around, this book will have an additional appeal. Even if you don’t have a vehicle fanatic in the family this is a joyous, playful book, so gorgeous (despite its shortcomings) we bought our own copy.

Jolivet creates her wonderful illustrations by printing lino cuts. I had never tried actual lino cutting with the girls before so this seemed like a good opportunity to try it (we’ve done printing using polystyrene trays, but not actual lino).

Quickly it became clear that the actually lino cutting was too difficult for the girls, so we adapted our plans.

The girls draw designs for buildings on the lino and I then cut them out.

Once ready, the girls printed out their buildings, altering the order to change their streetscapes. If I had had more time I would have stuck the lino pieces to blocks of wood to make it easier for the girls to handle them (picking up the relatively thin sheets of lino without leaving inking finger tips was something of a challenge for them).

Not the easiest of activities we’ve ever done together, but the end results were still satisfying enough for the girls to insist on hanging their pictures in their bedroom.

Whilst we made our linoprints we listened to:

  • We Built This City by Starship (a huge hit with the girls ever since we watched the new Muppets’ film)
  • Summer Night City by ABBA
  • Living For The City by Stevie Wonder

  • Other activities which would work well alongside reading Rapido’s Next Stop include:

  • Making these absolutely lovely paper cities from Made by Joel. These paper cities are so lovely! Joel has also made a paper Road Trip – perfect to go with a lovely Portuguese book a blog reader sent to me (thank you Sandie!) – As Duas Estradas by Isabel Minhós Martins and Bernardo Carvalho. Round Trip by Ann Jonas would also work well with Joel’s road-scapes.
  • J colouring in Made by Joel's paper city

  • Creating your own cityscape out of boxes – a little like we did here when we read Barbara Lehman’s The Red Book – to populate with playmobil or lego people.
  • Using clay to create a buildings-at-night nightlight, something like this gift a friend gave to me:

  • Do you have a favourite illustration of a city, or a favourite description of a town? Are there books you love, despite them being flawed?

    14 Responses

    1. Ali B

      Lovely post. What a shame that the text doesn’t live up to the illustrations, but they are gorgeous- I also love cityscapes, perhaps because Richard Scarry books were such a big part of my childhood? I was going to suggest polystyrene printing, where the picture can be drawn onto the block with a sharp pencil by a child, but Se7en beat me to it!
      Ali B recently posted..An Illustrated Year 6- The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman

    2. Choxbox

      The book sounds fun!

      We were at the Roald Dahl Museum yesterday and the shop there had a lovely collection of picture books, many of the reviewed by you. So there you go, yet another instance of how chancing upon a good book reminds me of you!

      As for your question, we love David Macaulay’s Underground. Gives a fascinating peek at a city from a different perspective.

    3. Zoe

      Hi Ali, oh yes, the towns in Richard Scarry are fabulous – and have that same continental flavour as Rapido actually.

      Hello Choxbox, I have been wondering where you are and what you’re up to – lucky you to go to the museum. I shall look up Underground.

    4. Helen D

      Love the look of this book! Not really the same idea re: cityscapes but I do love the way Michael Rosen evokes the sounds of the city in The Bear in the Cave.

    5. Jen

      Oh I love your lino cuts! Brilliant! I would hang them on my walls too!

      If theatre is spelled wrong it’s for an American audience, not North American. LOL!

      My husband is a delivery driver so we have a fondness for books like these. What a great one!
      Jen recently posted..Loon

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