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Fly Away With Books Brings Kids on a Reading Adventure!

Fly Away with Books is a free four-day festival launched by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in July 2019 in New York. It was inspired by the French festival Partir en Livre that has taken place every summer in France since 2015 and was created by the French Ministry of Culture and the National Book Center (Centre National du Livre). It aims to (re)introduce children of all backgrounds to the pleasures of reading by offering them unique and playful experiences, using books as interactive objects to inspire fun and curiosity.

From July 11th to July 14th, renowned French illustrators Anouck Boisrobert, Louis Rigaud, Lucie Brunellière and Marie-Laure Cruschi conducted playful and imaginative workshops, in both French and English, in venues throughout New York City: the Tompkins Square library, the Inwood Library, Albertine Books, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center and the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF).

Anouck Boisrobert, Louis Rigaud, Lucie Brunellière, Marie-Laure Cruschi and Gaston in front of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The aim of this festival was to give children the opportunity to reconnect with books outside of the school context and to explore the extraordinary resources they hold. The workshops were meant to stimulate children's imagination and creativity as well as their concentration and dexterity. While playing with them, the illustrators helped them develop skills such as drawing, using scissors, differenciating colors, shapes and being meticulous. The kids also practiced their reading and writing, learnt more about animals, the underwater world, geography and familiarized themselves with the French language but first and foremost... they had fun and came back home with works of art and great memories! 

Day 1: Tompkins Square Library

331 E 10th St, New York, NY 10009, États-Unis

On the first day the Tompkins Square Library Lucie Brunellière presented her book Deep in the Ocean and introduced the kids to marine flora and fauna, encouraging them to freely express their imagination when drawing corals (1). Marie-Laure Cruschi told them funny facts about colors (2) -their origins, their names, their symbolic meanings - while playing a memory card game inspired by her book Colorama (3). Meanwhile, Louis Rigaud and Anouck Boisrobert were showing them how to make pop-up books (4).

Day 2: Inwood Library

Inwood Library 4790 Broadway, New York, NY 10034

On the second day at the Inwood Library, the kids, fascinated by Louis Rigaud and Anouck Boisrobert's pop-up books Popville and Wake up, Sloth!, were thrilled to create their own pop-up city or forest (1). Marie-Laure Cruschi's circular color wheel intrigued them and they all sat around the table to pick a color that made them think about a memory and a specific location (2). Together, they created a colored atlas with all their souvenirs (see below, section "Your Works of Art"). Lucie Brunelliere read her book Deep in the Ocean with the soundtrack so that the kids were immersed in the underwater world before starting hands-on activities (4).

Day 3, morning: Albertine Books

972 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10075

The third event took place at Albertine Books. It was a great opportunity for the illustrators to introduce the audience to their work. Marie-Laure Cruschi presented her book Full Spead Ahead! and played a little yes/no game with the kids, comparing speeds of animals, modes of transportation and forces of nature before playing her memory card game (1). Lucie Brunellière told them how she created the illustrations for her book Animals' Portraits (2) and invited the children to look at pictures of animals and identify their main geometric shapes before drawing them. They created pop-up villages inspired by Popville with Anouck Boisrobert (3) while enjoying Partir en livre goodies and sweet treats from Gogo Squeez and Michel et Augustin (4).

Day 3, afternoon: Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy ’s Environmental Education Center

99 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

As the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy's Environmental Education Center focuses on the preservation of submarine life, it was the perfect place for Lucie Brunellière to conduct her workshop about corals and to present her book Deep in the Ocean (4 & 5). Louis Rigaud and Anouck Boisrobert took avantage of the spectacular view to design a pop-up of the skyline (1 & 2). Some of the kids, following their example, built up paper buildings, streets or libraries (see below, section "Your Works of Art"). They created another Atlas - Color chart with the kids: Marie-Laure Cruschi asked them to pick a colored card that made them think about a specific memory, write it down on the card with the name of the place and put a sticker on the world map at this location (3 & 6). 

Day 4: Bastille Day at the FIAF - French Institute Alliance Française

22 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022

The last day of Fly Away with Books' adventures took place on Bastille Day at the great celebration organized by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) on 60th street between Park Avenue and Madison Avenue (1). Marie-Laure Cruschi brought a new card game, inspired by her book Full spead Ahead!. The aim of the game is to rank a certain number of cards as a team, ordering all sorts of vehicles and animals into speed order, i.e. from slowest to fastest. Lucie Brunellière showed the kids how to draw animals easily, by identifying their main geometric shapes (2) and Louis Rigaud conducted his last pop-up workshop. He introduced them to his book That’s My Hat! (4) and helped them create pop-up gardens.


Pop-up workshop with Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud

Drawing corals and Animal Geometry with Lucie Brunellière

Atlas: a Geographic Color Chart with Cruschiform (Marie-Laure Cruschi)



Fly Away with Books is presented by The Cultural Services of the French Embassy and FACE Foundation as part of the Kids Trail program with generous support from Institut français. It is inspired by the event Partir en Livre, taking place every summer in France since 2015, and organized by the Centre National du Livre in partnership with the Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse en Seine-Saint-Denis.

Fly Away with Books is presented in partnership with the New York Public Library, Albertine Books, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Environmental Education Center and the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF).

Article and pictures by Loïse Tachon