Nimble Artistes

I was one of the fortunate 100 who recently received a brown paper package tied up with string and was completely charmed by both the handmade nature of the mailing and the enclosed book, Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall‘s The Mighty Lalouche.  A longtime fan of Blackall (going all the way back to her  hilarious collaboration with Meg Rosoff, Meet Wild Boars) I was delighted with this elegant Cinderella story of a mild mailman who became a celebrated boxer.

Yesterday I read it aloud to my 4th grade class and was pleased that they enjoyed it too. So first of all, to those who wonder if it is a book with a too adult sensibility, I can say that these ten-year-olds were captivated by the story and the art. But sometime else occurred to us as we enjoyed the story — something no doubt very particular to us.  And that is how much the images and verbal descriptions of the small and speedy boxer Lalouche reminded us of Charlie Chaplin (with whom, for those who don’t know, I’m a bit…er.. obsessed). Chaplin was incredibly capable on his feet too. He could dodge, feint, and dance around his opponents with an elegance and speed that seems not unlike that of the Lalouche of Blackall and Olshan. Not only did he do that in just about every one of his silent comedies, but he actually ended up in a few boxing rings. Perhaps most famously in City Lights, but also in an earlier short, The Champion.  Take a look below (start at 2:58 for his ring performance) and see if you can see any similarities between the Little Tramp and the Little Lalouche.

1 Comment

Filed under Chaplin, Children's Literature, Picture Books

One response to “Nimble Artistes

  1. This is so amazing and I am going to have to look into the Mighty Lalouche. I am a huge Chaplin fan, though I came in to his world rather differently, falling in love with the Robert Downey Jr performance which led me to his films, I have a whole collection now of shorts and features which I adore. He is a true cinematic legend. As a footnote, my father preferred Laurel and Hardy so I was not exposed to Chaplin; he finds his movies rather boring. My opinion is that though I love L & H, Chaplin gives the viewer so much more emotion.

    Like

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