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Prix Albertine Jeunesse 2020: Virtual Tour with Orianne Lallemand

Dallas International School (Dallas, TX)

Throughout March 2021, on the occasion of the Mois de la Francophonie, the French children's literature author Orianne Lallemand, winner of the 2020 Albertine Jeunesse Prize for the 3-5 years old selection, met with students at 7 French-speaking schools across the United States. For two weeks, Orianne and her Wolf had the opportunity to get to know children from San Diego, to Dallas, to Denver, for an enriching and joyful discussion about The Wolf Who Learned Self-Control (Auzou US, 2018).

A small overview of the tour:

Thank you to all the schools for their enthusiastic participation!

Ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle-Orléans (Nouvelle-Orléans, LA)

Ecole Maternelle Rochambeau (Bethesda, MD)

San Diego French-American School (La Jolla, CA)

Logan, Silicon Valley International School (Palo Alto, CA)

World-renowned author of children' literature, Orianne Lallemand divides her time between writing and animation in schools and libraries. Her books have been translated into many languages. She lives in Brittany with her husband and her children. Explaining both how she found inspiration and her meeting with Eléonore Thuiller, Orianne took a moment to answer our questions: 

How did you get the idea for The Wolf Who Learned Self-Control?

Emotions are a very interesting topic for young readers to tackle, and since the Wolf has become their “buddy” and occasionally their guide, I thought it would make a great story for parents and children, on the daily!

In general, where do you get inspiration for your stories?

When I am on the move! Whether in classes, around me or on my travels, of course! This is where I am the most creative.

Was your intention to convey deeper messages through the Wolf’s adventures?

Yes, and more and more so! As I come to appreciate the important space the Wolf occupies in the hearts of his young readers, I want him to help them grow up and feel good about themselves. There are life lessons: accepting yourself as you are, opening up to others and to difference, for example and there are messages that reflect my personal convictions and the common good, such as promoting ecology and preserving the planet with The Wolf Who Dreamed of the Sea or The Wolf Who Loved the Trees, which has just been published this week. I also do this in other stories for other publishers... but it somehow has less impact

How did your partnership come about with Eléonore Thuillier, the illustrator of the Wolf series? How do you two work together?

The publisher connected us 11 years ago now for the first Wolf book: The Wolf Who Wanted to Change His Color. It was the start of a great literary story... and friendship! We never left each other. We talk a lot about the stories, and we listen to each other. Then each of us works from her own space, she living next to Montpellier and I in Brittany.

For the past several years, the Wolf has appeared in translation in the U.S. as well—how does it feel to be read on the other side of the Atlantic?

It feels great! It says that you can touch, share moments, and read to children across countries ... that's great.

From Denver to San Francisco to New Orleans, this month you met with French-speaking students across the U.S. How important is it for you to meet your young readers? What are your favorite moments interacting with them?

I'm a regular in classrooms ... I love interacting directly with children, and I think I like school too! I would have loved to be a teacher. And I find it very important—for my work, for inspiration, for ideas—not to lose touch with reality and with what my readers are feeling. I don't want to stray from childhood. This is my source. And I'm like a fish in water. As an adult, I sometimes get worn out.

And above all, I like the back-and-forth, the exchanges, and the introductions. I was really very disappointed not to be able to do this Albertine tour "for real", it would have been fabulous in all regards, but I consoled myself a little when I saw that something was really happening, even via screens! I love to hear children's questions; I love to hear them laugh!

What is the best writing advice you have received?

You already write, now work.

How do you beat blank page syndrome?

By moving! I close the notebook or the computer, I gripe and I grumble like my wolf and I am either consumed by self-despair or in a very bad mood. So I'll take a walk. It's best for everyone!

The Wolf Who Learned Self-Control by Orianne Lallemand & Eléonore Thuillier (Auzou U.S., 2018)

Wolf can’t tell which emotion he is feeling sometimes; happy, sad, excited, jealous, there are far too many. When his moods begin to change without warning, Wolf’s friends begin to worry, and aren’t sure how to handle the confused whirlwind of their companion’s feelings. Finally, Wolf decides that enough is enough, and sets out to tame his ever-changing emotions, a feat more easily said than done. How exactly does he intend to manage his moods?

More info.