petite anglaise

April 16, 2008

chouette hibou

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 2:21 pm

Below is the picture drawn by Tadpole over lunch in a café last weekend, using my favourite book signing pen and a rather grainy, textured napkin. It prompted a lively discussion with The Boy, during the course of which I discovered that not only do the French have two different words for owl, but that one has tufty, ear-like appendages (the hibou, pictured), while the other (the chouette) does not. Who knew?

I suspect the inspiration for Tadpole’s picture came from the fact we are currently reading about Plop, the Owl who was Afraid of the Dark, at bedtimes, which is bringing back all sorts of lovely memories of reading the same to my baby sister, many years ago.

But it’s the other, cartoon-like bird on Tadpole’s picture that amused me most. Very Roger Hargreaves, don’t you think?


  1. Tadpole is three? How close to 4 is she? That picture is amazingly skilled for either age. Wow!

    Comment by JoAnne — April 16, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

  2. Yes indeed very Roger Hargreave, you know in this age they don’t have any constraint in drawing.. as they grow up they are losing this easiness … I noticed it in my little Albions.

    Comment by penelope — April 16, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

  3. It’s a sweet picture. (C’est chouette!)She’ll be an artist someday. Is the third figure you?

    Mentioning Plop the barn owl brings back the memories or reading to my own children, and learning the differences between the sounds that the various species make. (I think we call the hibou a long-eared owl)

    Comment by Moses — April 16, 2008 @ 3:16 pm

  4. As a very big Mr Men fan, I shall agree with your Roger Hargreaves thing.
    Is chouette not also a word for “great” or “cool” or things of that ilk?

    Comment by Whisper — April 16, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

  5. The little bird is great, but I particularly love the tree branch everyone is standing on. The small branches with their single hanging leaves look like some sort of kitchen rack with spoons. She obviously knows that branches are big where they’re attached to the tree, and that leaves have very tiny stems. Her solution to what happens in between is lovely!

    Comment by Peg — April 16, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

  6. It reminds me of Juan Miró. :)

    Comment by Dan — April 16, 2008 @ 3:59 pm

  7. She’ll be five in June…

    Comment by petite — April 16, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

  8. Oh how wonderful.
    Pop it in a frame and keep for ever!

    Comment by lex — April 16, 2008 @ 4:09 pm

  9. Wow! That’s a blast from the past. We joined a book club when I was in primary school and this is one of the books we bought. Such a great story.

    Comment by mrsB — April 16, 2008 @ 5:10 pm

  10. Bi-lingual AND arty… if she wasn’t five I’d be so jealous!

    Comment by girlwiththemask — April 16, 2008 @ 5:32 pm

  11. Absolutely gorgeous.
    If I was you, I would scan it before framing it. So that you will still have it after the real thing has faded, but also so that while it is sitting around waiting to be framed it doesn’t meet with an “accident”.
    The most beautiful drawing my 6 year old ever did turned up a few weeks later, folded into three, with a shopping list written on the back of it :-(

    Comment by Inzaburbs — April 16, 2008 @ 6:34 pm

  12. I adore the woman so full of love that she’s crammed full of hearts! And I love that the owl has one eye lined with eye-liner and not the other. Owl, I’ve been there my friend.

    What’s the funniest about the whole two words for owl thing is…I don’t really associate owls with France. Maybe I’m wrong but seems odd. I mean, when you find out that the Inuits have a gazillion words for snow, you’re kind of like, Oh, well of course.

    Now if the French had, like, five words for sexy, I’d understand.

    Comment by The Window Seat — April 16, 2008 @ 6:45 pm

  13. I’ve just managed to get my hands on a copy of your book albeit in hardback. I’m just about to put my little boy to bed and settle down with it, I can’t wait!!!

    I love reading your blog, I really identified with it living on my own in France. Tadpole sounds adorable.

    Comment by Anglaise Anna — April 16, 2008 @ 8:25 pm

  14. Tadpole a beaucoup, beaucoup de talent.

    Comment by Choubine — April 16, 2008 @ 8:58 pm

  15. such a cute pic, looks v similar to my ex.

    Comment by Babycakes — April 16, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

  16. Vachement chouette!!!

    Comment by Carol — April 16, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  17. I must admit that even if I am french I don’r really know the difference between a Hibou and a Chouette :)
    Only that english people can’t usually distinguish between U and OU… reminds me of a joke that I use to do to all my english friends asking them what was the french word for Neck in French… oh well… jsut a bit of fun :)

    Comment by Bugs — April 16, 2008 @ 9:33 pm

  18. #12: Actually the Inuit don’t have “a gazillion” words for snow. Steven Pinker, the eminent linguist who teaches at Harvard, explains in “The Language Instinct”, one of his (incidentially very readable and entertaining) books on language:

    “The anthropologist Laura Martin has documented how the story grew like an urban legend, exaggerated with each retelling. In 1911 Boas casually mentioned that Eskimos used four unrelated words for snow. Whorf embellished the count to seven and implied that there were more. His article was widely reprinted, then cited in textbooks and popular books on language, which led to successively inflated estimates in other textbooks, articles, and newspaper columns of Amazing Facts.”

    And amazingly, Wikipedia (not what I’d ever consider an authoritative source) actually gets this one right in a not bad article:

    Comment by Passante — April 16, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

  19. There are two “owl” words in Italian too – and according to my husband, they are two totally different creatures. It’s us English speakers who are confused.

    Love the picture – my three year old drew me a lovely picture today … of a poo.

    Comment by Catherine — April 16, 2008 @ 11:27 pm

  20. In order to help Tadpole sort out between chouette, hibou, hulotte, duc, etc you may go there:

    My kids enjoyed it 30 years ago, Enjoy also now.

    Comment by Saluki — April 16, 2008 @ 11:47 pm

  21. What a talented little artist!

    Comment by Maxi — April 17, 2008 @ 12:15 am

  22. Rofl ….not really wishin to show my age but Im sure I was a member of the tufty club a couple of moons ago ……Ohhh happy days lol….

    Havin seen Tadpoles pics Id have locked her under the stairs til was at least 35 shes gorgeous n those curls …in years to come missus you have a heartbreaker on your hands…

    I have to say Ive still got lots of little things our 2 made now 22 n 21 also thank you letter made by kids when I used to help out in the primary school for going in & reading to them & passing on to them a love of books….


    Comment by Soozyuk — April 17, 2008 @ 1:28 am

  23. It looks like a quirky greeting card. I’d buy it. She could have a future drawing them. :)

    Comment by Magpie — April 17, 2008 @ 8:15 am

  24. Lovely doodle, Tadpole! Quite the little artist! I love the lone star especially…
    I suppose you might be the lady in the dress and she might be the little bird, so could the owl be Mr. Frog?
    Is she left-handed, by the way?

    Comment by happyforyou — April 17, 2008 @ 11:31 am

  25. I LOVE the little one on the left, it’s actually really sophisticated with its open beak. So sweet to think of her working on this dilligently in a restaurant.

    Comment by Marianne — April 17, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

  26. I devoured your book in one sitting last night and I loved it! It was really well written, Thank you for an excellent read. I know it’s a book I’ll read again and again.

    I’m waiting patiently for number 2……..

    Comment by Anglaise Anna — April 17, 2008 @ 3:24 pm

  27. Ah, well – maybe she won’t be an actress after all, she’ll be an artist!
    I myself am more intrigued by the lady on the right – is that you wearing your wedding dress (although it’s not quite the right length, if you’re still intent on wearing the one you gave us a picture of a couple of weeks ago), full of love and happiness??

    Comment by Lotus Flower — April 17, 2008 @ 4:51 pm

  28. I didn’t know that. Did you know that chickens have only the one hole, through which eggs, etc, etc, emerge.
    I learned this courtesy of Jonnyb. Blogs are very educational I find.

    Comment by Pat — April 17, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

  29. Just so you know, I stole a copy of Tadpole’s oeuvre for my own private JPEG collection. Looking at her illustration makes me smile.

    Comment by Franca Bollo — April 17, 2008 @ 7:59 pm

  30. Chouettes lived in the attic of our renovated watermill in La France profonde. They are said to bring good luck. Sometimes we could hear them hissing at night. They would sereptitiously return each spring at very varied dates depending on the weather, lay their two or three eggs and then wait. We tried not to disturb them so their movements remained a bit of a mystery until we could peep in on the unaccompanied young during the day. Usually there would be a teenaged one with some brown feathers who hogged all the food from a sibling younger by several weeks. Sadly their survival rate was not very good but she usually managed to bring up one.

    I love Tadpole’s drawing and do lots of painting with our two half Mexican granddaughters for whom we left France.

    All the very best for your wedding.

    Grannie D

    Comment by Grannie D — April 17, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

  31. The owl who was afraid of the dark is a wonderful children’s book. It was my favourite book when I was younger and I used to read it to my brother. I think it is lovely for children.

    Comment by Gemma — April 18, 2008 @ 8:51 am

  32. Sweet. Talking about children afraid of the dark… my niece (4 yrs) was taken camping. She hated it. She cried all night in the tent.

    Her mum (in despair) in the middle of the night said,

    Chelsea…darling…what can I do to make it better?

    Chelsea sobbing: Make it day, mum

    Comment by lindsey violet — April 18, 2008 @ 12:43 pm

  33. I think it’s fantastic, and could become the first in a range of official Petite wallpapers.

    Comment by Jonathan — April 18, 2008 @ 1:54 pm

  34. Brilliant drawing…but did the pen survive? :)

    Comment by Caffienated Cowgirl — April 18, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

  35. so sweet, when I was her age my main preoccupation was keeping away from priests who might interfere with me

    Comment by Felix Randal — April 18, 2008 @ 4:55 pm

  36. Plop is the best. book. ever.

    Comment by Ruth — April 18, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

  37. C’est chouette….

    Comment by Dumdad — April 19, 2008 @ 5:36 pm

  38. Book Press:

    Great photos from Ling magazine, pity it’s impossible to read the article, text is very blurred. Do you know where it’s published, because it doesn’t seem to have an online version?
    Oh, and the link to “Scarlet” magazine doesn’t seem to be working…

    Comment by happyforyou — April 20, 2008 @ 6:33 am

  39. Just discovered it’s the in-flight magazine published by the budget airline Vueling…pity it’s not available on the ground!

    Comment by happyforyou — April 20, 2008 @ 6:43 am

  40. Isn’t Plop a Barn Owl? As opposed to a tawny owl (the ones with tufty ears)? These were matters of critical significance in the Brownies circa 1987 and The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark did nothing to ameliorate the situation.

    Comment by pinolona — April 21, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

  41. Very cute picture!
    You probably know of it already, but there’s a review of Petite Anglaise in the May edition of Glamour (out currently). I can’t find a link online and I would type it out here but I have left the magazine at home….it was good though!

    Comment by Nicole — April 21, 2008 @ 8:35 pm

  42. very sweet.

    Comment by keeper — April 22, 2008 @ 7:58 am

  43. Its a wonderful piece of art and one which you must keep – the one thing that makes it so wonderful is the ease with which she has illustrated an owl – a bird and a girl are easy, an owl though, I knew it was an owl before I read your story, how did she process that in the creative part of her brain ?

    Comment by Gary — April 22, 2008 @ 8:30 am

  44. You are now world famaous, even in New Zealand!, a full page article on your new book appeared in our Saturday Wellington paper (X telegraph)

    Comment by kezza — April 22, 2008 @ 8:57 pm

  45. I’d love to see it? If there is any way I can see it online or receive a pdf…?

    Comment by petite — April 22, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

  46. Ooooh, Kezza – is Petite’s book in store in NZ? I didn’t see the paper on Saturday…

    Comment by Jo — April 23, 2008 @ 7:45 am

  47. we
    La vie ordinaire de Petite

    Comment by meme — April 23, 2008 @ 7:46 pm

  48. What a great drawing, keep that napkin.

    So that’s the difference between a hibou and a chouette, only a hibou has ears that you can see, I did wonder. That explains why this chouette keeps loosing hers.

    Comment by sandwichfilling — April 23, 2008 @ 8:26 pm

  49. bless tadpole – too cute…

    Comment by Chictique — April 24, 2008 @ 11:55 am

  50. what number 47 said.

    Comment by daisy duke — April 24, 2008 @ 1:08 pm

  51. I’ll be back, just as soon as I climb out of my current sad hole. Bloody hormones…

    Comment by petite — April 24, 2008 @ 1:37 pm

  52. @51 petite.

    Lends petite a ladder to climb out of her current sad hole. ‘Come on petite, give me your hand, i’ll help you out’.

    Oh, (risking a furious rant here!), don’t blame your hormones, or your parents, it’s not their fault. Get your act together. All the same these arty types, work shy the lot of em (risks even more furious rant!). ;-)

    You have breath in your lungs, a beat from your heart and thoughts running through your head, so do something with them.

    Oh, and one more thing, did you know that ‘moron obeys hold’ is an anagram of, well, you guess.

    Come back soon, we miss you. ;-)

    Comment by Steve... — April 24, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

  53. Did you know tht all owls don’t ‘twit-twoo’? In fact only two types do … most screech … so could that be the difference between your owls?
    Mrs-to-be … what hole have you found to climb in to … surely there’s not enough time between the excitement and general loveliness of those around you?

    Comment by Prawn Cocktail Crisps — April 24, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

  54. Sometimes the sad holes are there to remind us to curl up and make time for ourselves, shutting out the world for a while. It’s not something you necessarily have to snap out of, so just let it take its course.

    You’ve been through a few very busy months with lots of excitement, nerves and commitments related to the book launch. You also have book no. 2 on your mind, as well as the considerable (albeit very enjoyable) task of being a mum to Tadpole. Not only that, you’re about to get married, so the stress hormones are bound to be in a bit of a tangle.

    Take some time out and be gentle on yourself…

    Comment by happyforyou — April 24, 2008 @ 10:25 pm

  55. Sheesh! And to think I was schooled in France, am a francophone and had no idea about the difference between a chouette and a [tufty-eared] hibou! Thanks for the educational content of this post.

    Comment by Ariel — April 25, 2008 @ 2:06 pm

  56. Hi Petite
    I agree with no. 54 you need to take time for yourself. You’ve been rushing around the last few months, admittedly on something very exciting for you, but you are probably suffering from a mixture of “anti climax” and sheer exhaustion plus even though I’m sure you’re looking forward to your wedding the preparation is all-consuming and nerve-wracking. Although I’ve been dipping in to your website in the last week to see if you’ve updated, take a rest, you’re not obliged to post, you’ve got to want to (and to enjoy doing it!).

    Comment by Jes — April 25, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

  57. Ditto # 54.

    Sometimes you don’t need to climb out of a hole. Sometimes if you are patient, the tears fill up the hole enough for you to float out.

    Comment by mem — April 25, 2008 @ 5:28 pm

  58. Miss you :(

    Comment by Becs — April 25, 2008 @ 6:11 pm

  59. This week is the 15th bookfestival including( first novelist) in my country. I was wondering, wheather I could find your book somewhere in the crowd. I doubt, but who knows.

    Comment by pchenge — April 25, 2008 @ 6:37 pm

  60. What a gorgeous work of art. The first pun I ever made in French was about owls: I was 13, on a school exchange to France and saw a beautiful necklace with an enamel owl on it in a jeweller’s window. Not only did I manage to get what I asked for I also ventured to say “c’est un hibou chouette”. Alas, my linguistic skills have long since eroded!

    Comment by rosie — April 25, 2008 @ 9:20 pm

  61. hey, petite,

    can you throw us a blog-bone?

    we’re wondering what’s going on.

    american jen

    Comment by jd — April 26, 2008 @ 6:41 am

  62. There was no trace of PA’s book at the book festival There were many nationals from, canada, china, spain, portugal, germany, but none from england, of course there were lots of english books by hungarian distributors. I was hoping to find your book because for me to order it, the postage cost more than the book. So I need to wait for a while more.

    hava a good rest of the weekend,

    Comment by pchenge — April 26, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

  63. Happyforyou (@38)

    Ling magazine is now available online at including the article about PA.

    Comment by Andrew — April 27, 2008 @ 12:41 am

  64. @63
    Thank you, Andrew!

    Comment by happyforyou — April 27, 2008 @ 11:48 pm

  65. Have you heard about ?
    Loving the book

    Comment by timide — April 28, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

  66. If all else fails go and see Mum. It worked for me whilst she was there. My Mum I mean.

    Comment by Pat — May 1, 2008 @ 4:34 pm

  67. Plop!! Good times.

    Comment by Alison — May 4, 2008 @ 4:00 pm

  68. My mum was a primary 1 teacher and she loved The Owl who Was Afraid of the Dark and all of Jill Tomlinson (that is who wrote it isn’t it?) books. I love Tadpole’s bird – reminds me very much of the birds that used to sit on the telegraph wire in the cartoon Rhubarb and Custard!!

    Comment by Di — June 5, 2008 @ 11:32 pm

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