I love the art of photography, and once upon a time (in high school) I was on my way to being a decent photographer. I could tell you all about f-stop and aperture and depth of field, but I dropped the camera in college and didn’t really pick it up again until Mia was born. Now I mostly use the automatic setting on my digital camera. One of these days I plan to take advantage of this great little art center down the street and reclaim my photo mojo.
Anyhoo, when I first read about Kiki and Coco in Paris, it was Stephanie Rausser’s gorgeous photographs along with her subject matter — her own daughter who’s close to Mia’s age — that lured me in. I ordered it sight unseen as a Christmas gift for Mia, and as soon as the discarded wrapping paper had been cleared away and the awe of Santa’s presence in our home dissipated, Mia asked to read this book. (Actually, she asked me to paint her nails with the nail polish Santa left in her stocking, and then she asked to read this book as they dried.)
Kiki is a girl and Coco is her beloved doll. Together, they traipse around Paris, home of another little heroine called Madeline.
When Kiki holds Coco’s hand, Coco’s feet skim the floor like a ballerina. It’s as if they were made for each other.
The story is told from Coco’s point of view, and while at first the narrative presents itself as “a day in the life” kind of story rooted in the relationship between girl and doll, a story arc emerges when Kiki forgets to grab Coco from a chair as she leaves a bustling café.
“Coco waits. Surely her girl will dash back in for her.”
I knew Mia enjoyed peeking in on Kiki as she explored the City of Light, but the heartfelt reunion between Kiki and Coco via an unsuspecting hero is what I believe took this story to the next level for Mia.
“The pitter-patter of little feet, and Kiki is above her. She scoops Coco up off the cold ground and whispers promises that she will never ever forget her again.”
But I think Mia’s favorite part might actually be the end page when she recites,
Je t’aime, Coco,
Je t’aime Kiki,
Je t’aime Mia
Rausser captures Paris through her lens from the vantage point of a child. I later discovered that the photography was staged for the storyline, which made sense when I looked back through the book, but nothing feels forced or contrived in this collaboration between Rausser, author Nina Gruener and doll maker Jess Brown.
I admit, there is nothing new to discover in Kiki & Coco in Paris, nothing that hasn’t been done before. The plot is traditional and straightforward, the climax quiet, but I think this was intentional. After all, it is Rausser’s stunning photography that really tells the story. A story that is elegant in both its setting and simplicity, something moms who will be asked to read this book time and time again can appreciate.