Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pop-Up Tour de France! A Book About a Race That Put a Smile on My Face

Pop-Up Tour de France
When Paintbox Press asked me to review Pop-Up Tour de France: the World's Greatest Bike Race by Pamela Pease, I agreed out of sheer curiosity - expecting a children's picture-book. Having now read it cover-to-cover, I must say that this is the most comprehensive and captivating explanation of the race I have come across, as a novice follower of the sport. Oh yes, and the pop-up illustrations are adorable!

Pop-Up Tour de France
Written in a way that can be read by adults and precocious children alike, Pop-Up Tour de France begins with the history of racing and of the Tour itself, before plunging into a step-by-step explanation of how the race is organised and held today.

Pop-Up Tour de France
Everything one might care to know - descriptions of the stages, explanations about how teams work together, race tactics, etc. - is spelled out in language that is interesting and understandable to a layperson, without being condescending or simplistic. Illustrations are done in what looks like pencil and gouache, occasionally combined with photos and logos collage-style. The pictures have a whimsical, half-finished quality to them that adds textural interest and a sense of spontaneity: Pencil marks are visible and the density of brush strokes is uneven. While parts of the same image might be rendered in great detail, other parts look almost like abstract colour blocks. Combined with the pop-up features, it all comes together well to attract the viewer's eye to even the most minute details of the illustrations. The book is exciting and succeeds in portraying the Tour de France as a very real and very appealing event.

Pop-Up Tour de France
Then of course there is the cute factor. There are tiny cut-outs of jerseys for the various race stages.

Pop-Up Tour de France
And things like this, where you get to see who's inside the team car by pulling on the tab, or who rides in the caravan by rotating a spinning wheel. Overall, the book comes across as well researched, though I am sure Tour aficionados would find plenty of slip-ups. The only thing I found off was a reference to a "back derailleur".

Pop-Up Tour de France
Held since 1903, the Tour de France is the most famous bicycle race in the world and takes place every year in July - In fact it is happening right now, and today is Stage 16. This year is the first time I've felt inclined to follow the Tour and I am not ashamed to admit that this wonderful pop-up book has contributed to my enjoyment and understanding of the coverage. Whether a novice or a seasoned follower, a child or an adult, the Pop-Up Tour de France is certain put a smile on your face and rev up your enthusiasm for cycling - be it on a racing bike across France or on a 3-speed around the block. I am delighted that a book like this exists about a sport that does not receive as much publicity as its fans would like. Thank you, Paintbox Press, for the opportunity to review it.

34 comments:

  1. Awesome. I picked up a similar book years ago in France written in the same voice. Love that the cultural knowledge starts early, just like A-dam and transpo bikes. Dibs if you are giving it away. If not I'll fight anyone for it. Do a French film deal; I might win that.

    This years Tour, in my overly-opinionated mind, is the best I've seen I think.

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  2. I LOVE popup books! (They remind me of my long ago days as a designer for Hallmark.) Very cool.

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  3. When my kids were tiny each day included a trip to the library to pull out books and read. Pop-up books were a favorite simply because they both engaged the imagination and allowed for physical involvement. I love good children's books b/c of the art and the many ways in which they allow the world to literally open up before their eyes!

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  4. You are the first blogger I've ever seen use the word "simplistic" correctly.

    What are you trying to do, bring literacy to the internet? Crazy.

    Also, love the artwork in that book. The illustrator(s) did a bang up job.

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  5. Yay, I used a word correctly for once! Happy day : )

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  6. @GRJim, je te défi pour le livre!

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  7. Ha! I don't think I've ever seen you use a word incorrectly, or even imprecisely for that matter.

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  8. P- My reputation is still not fully recovered from a recent "half-hazzardly"

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  9. Peppy (the amazing reading cat)July 19, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Oooh nice toy I scratch dig and chew it nao

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  10. Great looking book, and the perfect antidote to the last angst-ridden discussion. It's like listening to a great album where it goes from the my-wife-left-me song to one about kittens :). Sometimes a break is really nice to have! My son peered over my shoulder and definitely wants the book.

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  11. That's pretty cute, but mostly cool!

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  12. Julia, allons-y a la mort! Do not be half-hazzard in your weapon selection.

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  13. Will there be some sort of contest for the book or is this staying in your permanent collection ?

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  14. Peppy (the amazing scheming cat)July 19, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    Oooo I make contest and then keep book! Yes, I are sly cat.

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  15. Peppy, you are getting out of hand.

    Anon - I was planning to informally give it to the first person who expressed interest and wanted it for their child. Looks like that would be snarkypup. Snarky: It is not in new condition; I've been playing with the interactive pages. If you'd like it, it is yours.

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  16. No! I have a child! I mean I'll get one! Not fair!

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  17. "I mean I'll get one"

    Talk to me in 9 months then : )

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  18. No, they're cheap here! Really! I'll take a picture! It might look like one of Sally Struthers' but it's MINE!

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  19. Oh my...

    BTW, why is this year's TdF the best you've seen? I am guessing this, but could be wrong of course. For some reason, I strongly dislike Contador and don't want him to win, but otherwise don't have a great many opinions on it.

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  20. You would have to go there...

    Dra. ma. Intrigue. Whodunnits. Villains. Hometown heros. Success against all odds. Abject failure when success was guaranteed.

    From Miramax. Out in theatres soon.

    Contador is easy to dislike because he's the greatest rider of his generation; greater than Lance I think. I didn't really like him.

    But today he showed tremendous character from past distress, everyone was against him. The entire country of France, for instance. Crashed multiple times, rode with a limp, weak team.

    Every stage is just an amazing little opera.

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  21. Since you're a fan of vintage bikes go to youtube and watch the '85 tdf with lemond and others....great drama and oh those bikes!

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  22. "I am guessing 'this', but could be wrong of course."

    Yuck. That was the aftermath of the rediculous press car and barb wire accident. Poor guy.

    No, I think the interest in TDF this year is because of the uncertainty of outcome, and that maybe, just maybe, the unlikely Thomas Voekler (of France) could survive to pull it off.

    Never was a Contador fan either. I'd like to see Frank Schleck of Luxembourg or Voekler pull off the overall win. Its been a long time since a Frenchman won the TDF. I hope they get a win because they've had to put up with all that annoying Lance Armstrong worship for years.

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  23. We would love to get it! The wee boy thinks it's amazing, as he and his dad watched the TdF together this year. He recognized the logo immediately. It's funny, because his dad has zero interest in biking otherwise, but watches the Tour every year. The boy also knows Mama was on a bike team for a brief time in college, though he doesn't know that I did it so I could look at a cute guy's rear-end... The boy loves to bike, like Mama. Today we did six miles together, and I'm currently rideblogging our adventure on the seawall at Stanley Park in Vancouver last week.

    Thanks, V! It would be a lovely treat for him, and I assure you he'll love it in any condition.

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  24. Incidentally, is there anywhere to watch the tour online? Bad streaming, doesn't matter? Don't have a tv and no time to go watch it at the Ride Studio Cafe in the middle of the day.

    snarkypup - Great, I'll email you!

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  25. Velouria there are excellent photos of the TdF on-line at Steephill TV. Clip in your one step closer transform yourself into a roadie. Glenn in the Northwest

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  26. Thanks for nothing, Snark. Children, honestly. My dog needs to be educated. Where do you live, btw...

    Versus guys suck; thick Irish brogue here: http://sports-livez.com/channel/ch-6.php

    Bif, don't mention Schleck. It's like mentioning h*lm#t or strafetee.

    PS I am a child.

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  27. ITV4 over here in the UK have live streaming for the last two hours of each day's stage - typically 2:30pm to 4:30pm over here in England. I guess that would be 9:30am to 11:30am your time.

    http://www.itv.com/tourdefrance/

    Good luck - happy watching

    Roff

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  28. Cute! And I think "back derailleur" is a pretty forgivable slip (I don't think it's even technically incorrect, it's just that "rear derailleur" is more common, at least in American English).

    I could never get my daughter into following racing unless it's happening right in front of her. We're fortunate to have one or two big criteriums in our area though. She especially gets a kick out of watching the pro women ("daddy, those girls go waaay faster than you do!).

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  29. This year I don't watch TdF at all. When they get rid of the performance enhancing drugs, then I'll watch it.

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  30. Micheal Blue, et al: I hear they are working on Pop-up Tour de France vol 2: Pharmacopeia. :)

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  31. The way that American (and English) people see the Tour de France is always touching :)
    Bien à vous, et que le meilleur gagne !

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  32. I love pop-up books. They just make me happy. I've been thinking of getting my hands on this for my 7-year-old nephew. I'm trying to steer his interest away from cars and trucks and toward bikes. :)

    (A quick word about your previous post, if I may: agreed!)

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  33. Very cool! I absolutely LOVE the Tour, and it's wonderful to see it inspire so much creativity. I've been doing one watercolor of my own per-stage on my blog.

    I must get this book for my niece! Thanks for the review.

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  34. Jason, are you kidding me? Your water colors are incredible!

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