When I was given the opportunity to read and review Belle and Sébastien by Cécile Aubry I jumped at the chance, because as a child of the sixties, I remember when this was serialised on television and back then, even the grainy black and white images didn’t spoil my enjoyment. I absolutely adored the theme tune and remember signing it, in original French, at a school Speech Day in 1969.
The story is about Sébastien who was found as a new-born baby in the Alps and brought up by Guillaume and his grandchildren, Angélina and Jean. Born on the very same day is Belle a beautiful white Pyrenean Mountain Dog who is passed from owner to owner until eventually, like two star crossed lovers, Sébastien and Belle finally meet. What then follows is a beautiful story about value of friendship, the glory of adventure and of the overwhelming connection between a boy and his dog.
You can’t help but fall in love with Cécile Aubry’s writing, and this story, which was first published in 1965 is exactly as lovely as I remember. The writing is beautifully simplistic yet it conjures time and place so perfectly that you feel at one with the mountains and the landscape. It is also gloriously illustrated by Helen Stephens, with simple black and white line drawings, which perfectly evoke the overall spirit of the story.
Best Read with...A mug of milky Ovaltine and couple of Jammy Dodger Biscuits..
If you need a reminder of the TV theme music - here it is
About the Author
Cécile Aubry (1928-2010) was a successful French actress who gave up her film career to devote herself to writing children's novels and screenplays. She is most famous for the Belle and Sébastien series, for which she wrote the books and their television adaptations.
About the Illustrator
Helen Stephens is a multi award-winning author-illustrator. She has collaborated with some of the best loved authors including Michael Morpurgo and Roger McGough.
My thanks to Alma Books for the opportunity to read this lovely story again.