Asterix the Gaul

Time for another humorous series of books that have been entertaining (and secretly educating) people for decades. 

I was first introduced Asterix the Gaul by Rene Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo in my high school Latin class many years ago. The text had been translated from the original French into Latin. Does that sound dry? A book about Gauls from Roman times written in Latin? Wrong! My classmates and I loved the spunky cartoon characters so much, we would spend hours trying to figure out what each was saying. I’m sure all my success in Latin is due to the foresight of our teacher to provide us with Asterix books.

Several years ago, I stumbled on an English version. It turns out that there is a whole series featuring Asterix and Orion publishers has been re-releasing the books. I immediately bought several for my then elementary-school-age son. He loved them, too. In fact he went in costume as Asterix the Gaul on Halloween, and was bitterly disappointed when everyone thought he was a Viking.

What’s to love:

  • Incredibly clever word play and side-splitting puns
  • A humorous overview of history and geography during Roman times
  • Sly references to classics, films and famous pieces of artwork

What a few parents may not love:

  • Cartoon violence in the form of fighting

Most of the violence is the direct result of the conflict between the Gauls and the Romans, which is historically appropriate. To me, it seems so over-the-top slapstick that it is not objectionable, but I did want to mention it for those that are sensitive to such things.

You can get somewhat of a feel for the flavor in the film version. (The books are better. They don’t have the dated feel.)

Although listed as for ages 9-12, the Asterix books are really for all ages. Our local library files them in young adult or sometimes in graphic books. If your child is learning a language or you want to brush up on the language you took in high school, you might consider the French or Latin versions as well.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Publisher: Orion (September 1, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0752866052
ISBN-13: 978-0752866055

Asterix the Gaul is the first in the series.

A selection from the Asterix series in English

A selection from the Asterix series in French

A selection from The Asterix series in Latin

New Simon’s Cat Book

Sometimes here at Wrapped in Foil we take ourselves a bit seriously with all the nonfiction and science books. Today in honor of summer vacation, we’re going to take a look at something a bit different.

Have you seen the Simon’s Cat videos on YouTube?  If you like the videos, you might be interested to know that Simon Tofield has a new book out called Simon’s Cat: Beyond the Fence.

The videos and books are for cat lovers, as you will find yourself saying, “My cat does that!” The cartoons are appropriate for older children, say 9 and up. Note: A few of the earlier videos contain a bit of physical violence that is probably mild by today’s standards. For example, in one of the first videos the cat hits its owner with a bat.

If you haven’t seen one of the videos, here’s Simon’s Cat in “The Box” as a short example:

The trailer shows a bit of how this new book expands beyond the original Simon’s Cat book.

British author Tofield has added some vignettes with North American animals to the new book to draw in readers from across the pond. Let’s just say that silliness ensues.

If you are looking for something light this summer, give Simon’s Cat: Beyond the Fence a try.

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (June 2, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446560073
ISBN-13: 978-0446560078