Twilight was descending over the vast green expanse of Auteuil Racecourse. The jumps had dimmed into dark shapes against the still vivid green grass. Admiring this, Paras did something that she often did – she pressed against the door of the stall, and this time something happened that had never happened before – it swung open. After a moment, Paras stepped carefully out onto the fine, crunchy gravel and snorted…Paras was a very curious filly.Perestroika in Paris
I love a well written book with animals. Consider Charlotte’s Web, Pinocchio, and The Wind in The Willows. These creatures have shown me what it is to be brave, or adventurous, or even foolish.
While I was reading Perestroika in Paris, I thought about how delightful it would be to read it to my class. Really, it is such a charming, light-hearted tale of a racehorse, a retriever, and a raven who live in Paris, forming a trio of friendship in some ways similar to The Three Musketeers. They forge their own way, independent and resourceful. They show me Paris through their eyes.
They have taken me, again, to the Champ de Mars, the Place de Chaillot, the Place du Trocadero, and the Tour Eiffel. Their observations of these famous landmarks, and more, are fresh as well as often amusing. Raoul, the raven, has this opinion about the Tour Eiffel:
Raoul was sitting on one of the struts of the great Tour, useless, as far as Raoul could see, to humans, but a wonderful convenience for Aves…
When a young boy, named Etienne, observes Paras from his grandmother’s home where he lives, he invites her in. His grandmother is blind, and deaf, and somehow doesn’t seem to notice (or care about?) the presence of a horse in her salon. Using his own ingenuity, Etienne gains the aid of a butcher, a baker, and a gardener to help keep his secret.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this impossible tale, for while noting that it could not happen in actuality, I was hoping deep down that it would.