Daniel Pennac – Messieurs Les Enfants

Title: Messieurs Les Enfants
Author: Daniel Pennac
Year: 1997

I have read novels in French before, but it was a long time ago and when I actually studied French in school. Therefore, what I say about the book in question should be taken with a heap of salt, because my bad French might be the reason for various misapprehensions. In short, I enjoyed this book and I sensed that there was more than my language ability enabled me to understand. I found Messieurs Les Enfants by Daniel Pennac a funny and entertaining novel.

The first few chapters were really difficult. I had to look up several words per sentence and even then I did not always understand. However, I soon recovered, and after a while, reading went fairly smoothly, even without a dictionary at hand.  The story that emerges is about three twelve-year-old boys who are given an assignment to write what would happen if suddenly one morning they found themelves transformed into adults and vice versa; their parents turned into kids. They are frightened and awed when this actually happens the next day. What has happened? Who is to blame? Is there a way out?

This book is hilarious. Even though I am sure I missed most of the jokes, I still laughed many times. The dialogue is witty and fast-paced, which tallies neatly with the narration in general (which I had trouble understanding at times). Messieurs Les Enfants has not only succeeded in entertaining me, it has also sparked an interest in the French language in general. I own another novel by Pennac and even though I probably will not read it while in Taiwan, I am positive I will read it once the onslaught of learning Chinese has receded.

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  1. Sebastiana Dekany’s avatar

    Messieurs les enfants is very imaginative and absorbing and one of the most interesting and humorous books I have read. The sarcasm and humor are simply exuberant.
    The characters could be each of us depicted in our good, bad, glorious or ridiculous moments. Daniel Pennac mocks at the grotesque, succeeding to emphasize that maybe the world is a better place when it is upside down. Biological rules are broken; children become parents and vice-versa.
    The decisions made and the way children cope with critical moments are remarkable and betray the fact that the author is a good psychologist with a vast knowledge of life and people.
    Read the book! It is really worth it. I loved it!

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