Today’s post is dedicated to the wonderful world of French language children’s books! Though most of us are familiar with the wonderful works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Jean de Brunhoff, and Hergé, I have just recently learned of a wonderful treasury of Belgian children’s books by Gilbert Delahaye and illustrated by Marcel Marlier. Originally published in French the Martine books number over 50 and have been translated into many languages. I only recently learned of these through Eve Ratthe, who is a friend of my niece Faye Hanoian. At a recent seminar in Orange County, the topic was the way in which children’s books can be inspirational to a child’s future destiny. Eve was eager to share how the Martine books were formative to her life’s passion and how that has been realized in her life. I think you’ll find her story and these books delightful!
My name is Eve Blanchard Ratthe and I am a French Canadian living in Orange County with my soul mate/best friend and my 7 blessings from above. There are many things in life I am absolutely passionate about, one of which is holding a good book in my hands, smelling it (the older the better) and looking at it with anticipation. I try to find ways to carve out some time from my busy schedule to discover it’s beauty and how it will affect and change my life!
I recently went to Rea’s literature seminar in Orange County and was thrilled to meet her. During the seminar, my love for books grew bigger and deeper. The idea of writing my own book some day became a little closer to reality! After the seminar, Rea asked me if I would be interested to share about the books I liked as a little girl and how they influenced me now as a mother, wife, baker–I was delighted!
How excited I am to share these awesome books with you. This beautiful French collection is called “MARTINE” and there are 60+ books in the series. It’s been translated in many languages and for those of you who would like to learn French, some are accompanied by a CD which has a narrator telling the story.
As a little girl, I loved Martine’s sweet character, full of life and how she brought me into all her adventures. The incredible art work would transport me into my dreams. They allowed me to visualize them, they were a tangible way of seeing that my dreams can come true. Often times, right after reading these books, I would ask my mother if I could play out what I saw in those pictures and she would let me. I would gather all that I needed and would re-create exactly what I saw in those pictures.
I truly believe I had hidden those BEAUTIFUL images in my heart and that one day they would come true for me . . . and they have . . .
I am now rediscovering them through the eyes of my children! I couldn’t wait to have my own children and experience motherhood, I couldn’t wait for them to have their own library and mark those special books with Ex Libris. When I gave birth to my first child, I immediately thought of starting her library and book collection. I asked several people in our families to give our daughter a book that they liked as a child and that influenced their own childhood. I wanted her to have this “MARTINE” collection that was so dear to me . . . of course. Whenever we go to Quebec, we never miss a chance of expanding her collection and mark those trips with one or two new Martine books. When our families come visit us, they also bring some with them. All my children truly enjoy reading them. The other day, my daughter Armanie shared with me that it was her absolute favorite collection–how thrilled I was to hear that!
Last year, the illustrator “Marcel MARLIER” who is now in his 80s, came to Quebec to visit the town where my sisters live. My sisters had each bought a book for my daughter and had it signed by him, needless to say, my daughter and I were incredibly touched. He wrote her a little message in each book and gave her a card as well. This is priceless to both of us! These two books are now marked with a very special autograph. Just as I have dreamt, I truly hope my children dream as they open these books . . .
Martine Plays Theatre, Martine is a Ballerina, and Martine and the Birthday Present are some of our favorites! I believe that just like they were for me, the Martine books are candy for my children’s sweet little eyes . . .