Review of ‘Claris The Chicest Mouse in Paris’

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Title: ‘Claris: The Chicest Mouse in Paris’
Author/Illustrator: 
Megan Hess
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Ages: 3+
Age Range: early childhood – lower primary
Themes: Parisian, Paris, adventure, journey, fashion, courage, compassion, friendship

Click on title links or cover image to purchase. 

Acclaimed Australian fashion illustrator, Megan Hess, has turned her considerable talent to picture book illustration and the resulting title, ‘Claris: The Chicest Mouse in Paris’ is a delightfully playful and visually sumptuous book which celebrates Parisian elegance and the power of confidence and pluckiness! It is a must-have for fashion conscious babes and their parents and caregivers. 

Hess has managed a rhyming text that works well as a read aloud (a rarity) but the heroes here are the illustrations and the entire book design; ‘Claris: The Chicest Mouse in Paris’ really must adorn coffee tables in order that it can be picked up and stroked and then styled with tea cups and little pink cupcakes – I’m imagining there will be many a Claris High Tea event around town!

Follow it up in the home, classroom or library

Technology and Design

Claris is so very creative, making beautiful designs from recycled materials. Her black frilly dress was made from plastic bags and her earrings from fish bones! Did you notice her suitcase was a matchbox with button wheels (see below)?

  • With recycled materials, design and make mouse sized clothing and accessories.
  • Draw an amazing house for Claris to live in. What wonderful things would she have? How would it be decorated?
  • For younger children/students, draw a template of a house and have children/students design Claris’ house. This could be done as a whole class activity or individually. Provide sparkly paper, glitter and all things *bling* to add flair!

Discussion Time

Claris says ‘I believe you should always be brave and help someone in need.’ What does she mean by this? Why should we always be brave? Why should we help others?

Monsieur was a cat and Claris was a mouse. They are two creatures that don’t usually co-exist.

  • What happened in the story for them to become friends?
  • What are other creatures that don’t co-exist? Cats and dogs? Lions and humans? Give some examples. Write about how they could get along. How could they help each other?

We don’t tend to be friends with everybody. Think of someone you don’t usually hang out with/chat to.

  • How could you become friends with them?
  • Discuss and write about this.
  • Design a poster to help others.

Vary the complexity of the questioning depending on the age of children/students.

Rhyme Time

Rhyme is all-important in early literacy development and as a means to play with language. Claris’ is a great example of a rhyming text. Go through the text and discover the rhyming words.

  • Can you add more rhyming words to them?
  • Write your own rhyming story.

Word Searching

Megan Hess does not shy away from using high-level language so this is the perfect opportunity to extend vocabulary. Find the meanings (and synonyms) of these words in the text. Use a dictionary/ thesaurus/ online research tool:

  • Perplexed
  • Compassion
  • Scurried
  • Chicest
  • Maison
  • Scolding
  • Bothersome
  • Bonnet
  • Sundae
  • Gasp
  • Chow
  • Prim
  • Saviour
  • Flourish
  • Exude
  • Grace
  • Frocks
  • Gazed
  • Elegant
  • Swooping
  • Snitch
  • Hunch
  • Feline
  • Bristling
  • Cravat
  • Grim

Now find these words in the book!

Design a find-a-word or cross word for a friend to complete. There are plenty of online tools to help you design your own.

Geography

The story is set in Paris. What country is Paris in?

It talks of different landmarks and fashion designers in Paris:

  • Le Bristol
  • Eiffel Tower
  • L’Avenue
  • Chanel
  • Celine
  • Dior
  • Vanity Fair
  • Vogue

Find out more about these landmarks and designers. When were they established or built? What makes them so famous? Research some others – what can you find?

Let’s Speak French

These French words are used in the book:

  • adieu
  • soufflé
  • beret
  • M’amselle
  • bonjour
  • tres
  • maison
  • monsieur

What do you think they mean? Use the context of the book to help you decipher. Now use an online tool to find out if you were right.

Try substituting some of these words when you converse with others…greet people with ‘bonjour’ rather than ‘hello’…

What are some other French words you could use for simple English words? ‘Oui’ for ‘yes’ etc.

Let’s find out more about the Author and Illustrator Megan Hess

Did you know that the author Megan Hess is famous?!

    • What is she famous for?
    • What do you think led Megan Hess to write a children’s book?
    • How does her career help her with writing/illustrating a book?
    • Find out 5 interesting facts about Megan Hess.
    • Megan Hess affectionately calls her pen ‘Monty’. Why do you think she named it that?Booktopia
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