The Bathing Costume

The Bathing Costume

Or the Worst Vacation of My Life

By Charlotte Moundlic; Olivier Tallec (Illustrator)

Enchanted Lion Books, Hardcover, 9781592701414, 40pp.

Publication Date: May 2013


The book's protagonist is Michel, an eight-year-old Parisian boy. His brother Martin, who's twelve, detests him, and he detests Martin right back. This summer, Michel will go away alone, which really means without his mom, to stay with his grandparents while his parents move apartments. To add to the horror, Michel's older boy cousins will be going, too. As Michel says, "To put it simply, they are big, strong, and pals with Martin. I am their scapegoat." Recounted by Michel himself, his vacation doesn't turn out to be such a complete zero after all. Between a competition to see who can shower the least, wild bike rides without gear, and a tooth that finally falls out, Michel discovers both independence and real moments of happiness.

The text is both very funny and moving, with good reason, for we see an eight-year-old's vacation with his grandparents and older cousins through his own eyes, with all of the little things that are important to a boy of eight: the dumb things that he'll never tell his mom; the small triumphs; the disregard and mocking of the older cousins; the shame of having a bathing suit that slips off in the pool; the freedom of being away from home; and the satisfaction of overcoming fears. As always, Olivier Tallec's illustrations render all the emotions of our little hero with an enormous amount of expressiveness, talent, and sheer gorgeousness.

About the Author

(1830-1907). Ne en Seine-Maritime, Hector Malot fait des etudes de droit et devient clerc de notaire. La litterature l'attire pourtant plus que le droit et le succes de ses premiers romans l'encourage a abandonner l'un pour se consacrer a l'autre. Aujourd'hui, ce sont ses romans pour la jeunesse qui lui assurent une durable renommee.