Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Garret Freymann-Weyr
Illustrator: Erin McGuire
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Georges and Cécile are not French and they are not ducks. They are black birds that swim on the canal, but they like to think they are French. They live in Venice . . . Venice, California, that is. Georges and Cécile have a friend, a lovely woman named Polina, who makes beautiful dresses made from thread, silk, cotton, and velvet as well as grass, flowers, pieces of the night sky, and strawberry jam. Polinas dresses are said to be magical. Polina lives with her boyfriend Sebastian Starling, a movie star that makes Polina happy. Georges and Cécile love to talk with Polina every day on her pier while she enjoys her coffee. One day Sebastian Starling leaves forever, and Georges and Cécile see that Polina is sad. They decide to find a way to make Polina happy again, as good friends do.
This is a lovely story about grief, abandonment, and the power of time and friendship. The illustrations are so detailed and heartwarming. There are gorgeous illustrations on every page, including a two-page spread as well. French Ducks in Venice is a book worthy of displaying. The excellent storytelling and well-developed characters allow readers to feel the characters' motivations and passions. Polina pours her heart and soul into her dressmaking and she expresses hope for the future in the dresses she makes when she has allowed time to heal her. Polina’s character shows how someone reacts to grief while Georges and Cécile demonstrate a lovely way to support someone as they work through her grief. This story would be wonderful for a child who is dealing with abandonment, divorced parents, or instability. A heartwarming and lovely book.