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What do you get when you gather two of the best storytellers of all times, mix and match them up, and go on a trip to Paris? Well one heck of a great story called The Story of Diva and Flea of course.
I couldn’t believe it! One day I was at the grocery store and there sitting on the end cap was this adorable book with a black and white cat and a little white dog on the cover. I picked it up immediately and then I saw who wrote it……drum roll…… Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi. Two of my favorites.
I’m Facebook friends with Tony DiTerlizzi and I have to tell you every time he posts it likes being in a candy store. He shows us little glimpses of his art as he noodles around. I just love it.
The Story of Diva and Flea is about a cat named Flea who wanders the entire city of Paris.
He is what’s known as a flâneur (\flä-ˈnər\), meaning he wanders around. As chance would have it, one day Flea wanders to a beautiful old apartment building that has a fence and a gate leading into a little garden. There protecting the gate was a little white dog named Diva, who was barking its head off. They strike up a conversation and before you know it, Flea is getting Diva out of her comfort zone and they start wandering to incredible places in Paris. Diva in return gives her friendship to Flea and food and sometimes a nice place to sleep.
The Story of Diva and Flea does not disappoint.This is a beautiful story of opposites attract and the power of friendship to move us past our comfort zones.
Tony does a great job with the illustrations and magically brings Paris,as well as Diva and Flea to life. Mo did a fantastic job of telling the story. This is a well crafted story that uses some French words which are well explained in a non glaring way. This book will easily captive the early reader as well as those who love to be read too. It will also hold the attention of parents who perhaps just like reading Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi books selfishly to themselves. I think I’m in that category. Hope I’m in great company.
This book was born from both Mo and Tony having always wanted to go to Paris. For as long as Mo could remember he has always wanted to live in Paris. When he got there searching for a story it was sitting as his feet by way of the apartment caretakers dog.
Tony had always wanted to visit Paris too. I can’t really tell if he has made it yet but he has lots of ideas about what he wants to do once he gets there. Thanks to Mo Willems and there sweet little book, Tony has gotten to live one of his dreams via illustrating a fantastic story.
Something To Do
Though I can’t really take you to Paris, though I’d love to, we can do some Paris inspired fun things to do.
Flâneur or The Art of Walking
Recently I saw on social media that “purposeless walking” is suffering a slow death. This is due to a couple of things, first cars and second all of our cell phones, iPods and other wonderful gadgets. Something wonderful happens when we walk with children however; we learn to be present.
Some of my greatest memories of being a mom are of my long discovery walks with my children. Even as an adult one of my favorite things to do is walk, in fact I walk anywhere from 3 to 5 miles daily.
This tendency for walking started when I was about 9 years old and my parents started letting me walk to the library by myself. The library was a good mile or more away but I could do it all on sidewalks and within crosswalks. This of course led to other wanderings “around the library”. The art of walking has served me, the ardent traveler, and my children well.
“Being out on your own, being free and anonymous, you discover the people around you.” Solnit
If one is going to be a true Flaneur, one has to abide by a couple of rules.
- Turn off all devices. Stop Texting and mapping.
- Walk further and with no fixed route.
- Don’t soundtrack your walks.
- Go alone or with your children/family.
- Find walkable places.
- Walk mindfully.
1. Turn off All Devices
Nowadays wherever I walk everyone is walking looking down at their phones or iPods. No one looks up or at you anymore. One of the great skills of a flâneur is to take in the sites, make observations and experience ones surroundings as one is walking, even the weather becomes an experience while walking.
2. Walk Further and With No Fixed Route
The real art of walking insists that one just wanders where one is called. When walking with the children I have a general idea of what area we’ll be walking in but I let the moment and the children dictate exactly where we’ll be walking. Each season, each walk invites us to explore and discover new details and things. One of the most important parts of wandering with children is to make sure that you have a backpack filled with snacks and enough water. Resting periodically is important as well. The more you walk with them, the more endurance they will build up and the further you’ll be able to go and return.
3. Don’t soundtrack your walks
Flâneurs take in all the sights and sounds and wander where they are called. If you’re playing music, listening to the news, or a podcast, you’ll miss connecting with your walk and the place you’ve chosen to walk in.
4. Go Alone or with your Children/Family
To practice the art of walking is to silence the voice inside our heads. One of the things that most creates a sense of nostalgia is that we’ve had an experience with a person, place or thing. Walking and being a flâneur helps us to make a connection to the places we’re wandering in. To make great discoveries and explorations it’s best to go alone, with your children, or in your immediate family unit (mom, dad, kids). Bringing hordes of people or a group of friends on a walk will result in lots of talking about everyday things. It will turn out the same way listening to music while walking does, disconnected from the place you’re walking in.
5. Find Walkable Places
It’s really important whether walking on your own or with your family that the places you want to wander in are meant for walking. There is one certain mud patch that the kids later referred to as “the bog” that comes to mind. It didn’t look that boggy at the time but boy was it. Even that muddy mess served it’s purpose as a mindful flâneur walk but we probably could have chosen a friendlier site to walk in.
6. Walk Mindfully
The whole idea of being a flaneur is to take in the sites,sounds, and people of the place you’re walking in. To do that one has to be mindful that you are there for that purpose. It’s completely a walk of discovery and exploration or to reconnect with a place you’ve already walked in. There are a couple of types of walks that I love to do with young children.
Make sure everyone has a partner. You’ll need a blindfold for this. Blindfold one of the children in each pair. Their partner takes them by the hand and leads them gently on the walkway. The person with the blindfold on has to listen for as many sounds as they can.
Another way to do this walk is to not have blindfolds on but simply ask everyone to be quiet and listen for as many sounds as they can.
Yet one more variation on the listening walk is while walking in a city walk to a middle of the block and ask the kids to listen and share what they hear. Then walk down another block and see if it is quieter or noisier. What other sounds can they hear ?
What do you Smell
It doesn’t matter where you’re walking, every place has a smell. Big cities are always fun and just like The Story of Diva and Flea, cities like Paris, New York, London and other cities have certain smells. There is food smells, car and truck smells, water smells, newspaper smells, flowers smell, open air markets, libraries, everything has a smell. Plan a walk where everyone is looking for things that smell.
What do you See
While on this walk discover things that are tall and require that you have to look up, like way up. What things does one see with their head looking straight ahead or within eye range. What things are at feet level? Is it possible to see what’s below ground level. This is when riding subways, digging in the dirt, or taking secret passageways make for great explorations.
Just like Diva and Flea you might be able to walk around the corner and find a tower, as in the Eiffel Tower, just like we did.
I’d love to see where you wander to. Please share on instagram and tag me @jumpintoabook. Happy Wanderings fellow flâneurs.
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This money goes towards postage and supplies to keep books and ideas in the hands of young readers!
Concerned that your kids aren’t getting enough “outside time?”
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With fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book. Our goal is to not only raise awareness for the necessity of families spending more quality “unplugged” time together, but to also share monthly activities that incorporate nature and the outdoors as well. Get your kids moving, exploring and playing today. Get access to this wonderful children’s activity book here.
Meet you “in the garden!”