From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

 

LES DOIGTS DANS LE NEZ

 

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Literally: fingers in the nose

Best equivalent: hands down

 

When something is very easy to do, the French often say: les doigts dans le nez, implying that it’s so simple you have time to put your fingers in your nose while accomplishing the task. Here in the States, we are a little less graphic 🙂

 

See you tomorrow for the letter O, part of the A to Z challenge!

All These Little French and American Words…

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

 Four words for the letter R

* Four French words with similar spelling, except for one, in French and English, but different meanings whether it’s used in France or the USA

 

 ROBE

The French word “robe” designates a woman’s dress, but also the apparel of the clergy or the black cloak worn by lawyers and judges. It is also used to describe the color of wine and to designate the coat of some animals, particularly horses and cattle. But a robe in French is never a dressing gown or a bathrobe.

Aux Etats Unis le mot robe dĂ©signe aussi le vĂȘtement portĂ© par le clergĂ© et les juges. Mais une robe est aussi un peignoir et un peignoir de bain se dira “bathrobe.”

 

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RENDEZ-VOUS/RENDEZVOUS

Celui ci est un clin d’oeil Ă  mes premiĂšres semaines aux USA et aussi parce qu’un blogueur français l’a Ă©voquĂ© au dĂ©but de ce challenge.

Rendez-vous est en effet l’un de ces petits mots de la vie quotidienne qui m’a mis dans des situations amusantes, voire embarrassantes, dans mes premiers temps en Californie, quand j’ai appelĂ© par exemple le pĂ©diatre et le gynĂ©co pour leur demander un rendez-vous. J’ai aussi pris rendez-vous avec le coiffeur et quelques mamans que je venais de rencontrer pour nous retrouver au terrain de jeux. Sans commentaire.

Aux Etats Unis on dit “appointmentpour tous rendez-vous professionnels.

Rendezvous s’utilise pour un rendez-vous amoureux et s’Ă©crit sans trait d’union.

 

One small word that put me in funny and even embarrassing situations in my early days in California when I called my baby’s pediatrician and my OB to book a rendezvous. I also called a hairstylist and a couple of moms I had just met for a rendezvous as well. No comment.

I had an excuse: in France rendez-vous means appointment, regardless of the type of rendez-vous.

In French rendez-vous is hyphenated.

 

RÉSUMÉ

Le mot résumé désigne un curriculum vitae pour les américains.

In French, résumé means summary. French speakers would use instead curriculum vitÊ, or its abbreviation, C.V.

 

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RISQUÉ

RisquĂ© aux Etats Unis se traduit par “osĂ©” en français.

In French, the meaning of risquĂ© is “risky,” with no sexual connotation. Otherwise the French would use “osĂ©” (daring). “OsĂ©” is not used for people themselves, only for things (such as pictures, movies…) or attitudes.

 

 

Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter R that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre R qui a un sens diffĂ©rent selon qu’il soit utilisĂ© en France ou aux Etats Unis?

 

See you tomorrow with the letter S

 

MLK

En l’honneur de l’anniversaire de Martin Luther King Junior (nĂ© le 15 janvier 1929), les Ă©coles, les services postaux, les banques, et bureaux du gouvernement fĂ©dĂ©ral sont fermĂ©s aujourd’hui lundi aux Etats Unis. Ce jour devint une fĂȘte fĂ©dĂ©rale par une loi signĂ©e en 1983 par le prĂ©sident Ronald Reagan, mais ce n’est que depuis 2000 que les cinquante Ă©tats des USA le cĂ©lĂšbrent unanimement.

Un certain nombre de business privĂ©s sont Ă©galement fermĂ©s. Le cƓur d’une entreprise amĂ©ricaine balance entre deux jours fĂ©riĂ©s : Martin Luther King’s Day ou Presidents’ Day, le 16 fĂ©vrier cette annĂ©e.

On dit que les rĂ©publicains prĂ©fĂšrent Presidents’ Day et que les dĂ©mocrates penchent pour Martin Luther King’s Day. Dans le doute je suis les Ă©coles et fĂȘte les deux.

Presidents’ Day, comme son nom l’indique, cĂ©lĂšbre les prĂ©sidents amĂ©ricains dans leur ensemble, mĂȘme si techniquement ce sont Lincoln et Washington, qui sont fĂȘtĂ©s, nĂ©s respectivement le 12 et le 22 fĂ©vrier.

Quant Ă  Martin Luther King Jr., lorsque je suis passĂ©e Ă  Memphis en 2012, j’ai eu la possibilitĂ© de voir le lieu exact oĂč il a Ă©tĂ© assassinĂ© le 4 avril 1968.

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Mon blog Ă©tait peu lu Ă  cette Ă©poque. En fait, il est possible que personne n’ait lu ces billets Ă©crit en français ici et in English lĂ .

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Mes nombreuses annĂ©es en Californie m’ont davantage familiarisĂ©e avec le mouvement des droits civils des noirs amĂ©ricains, dont Martin Luther King Jr. Ă©tait le leader, qu’avec la sĂ©grĂ©gation raciale du sud des Etats Unis. Les deux sont cependant indissociables.

Si vous voulez que vos enfants dĂ©couvrent les racines de ce mouvement sans passer par un livre d’histoire, je vous recommande One Crazy Summer, un roman à la fois drĂŽle, honnĂȘte et trĂšs sensible, Ă©crit par Rita Williams-Garcia et publiĂ© en 2010.

A travers Delphine et ses petites sƓurs, dont elle s’occupe du haut de ses onze ans comme une vraie maman, maintenant que la leur a dĂ©cidĂ© de quitter Brooklyn pour Oakland de façon Ă  vivre Ă  fond le style de vie californien des annĂ©es 60, l’auteure nous fait dĂ©couvrir les Ă©vĂšnements les plus marquants et transformateurs de l’histoire rĂ©cente des USA. ExcĂšs et espoir se poussent constamment du coude Ă  travers une sĂ©rie de personnages extrĂȘmement bien campĂ©s. Delphine et ses soeurs vivent la montĂ©e des droits civils au plein coeur d’Oakland, des moments extraordinaires mais aussi banals qui font l’enfance, et aussi un rapprochement inattendu avec leur maman.

Un thĂšme sĂ©rieux avec une sĂ©rieuse dose d’humour, des personnages et situations rĂ©alistes et Ă©mouvants. Franchement excellent.

Le site web de Rita Williams-Garcia est aussi une bonne source d’information sur son parcours de femme noire Ă©crivaine aux USA.

MalgrĂ© le succĂšs de ce livre aux USA, je n’ai pas trouvĂ© de traduction française. Si quelqu’un la connaĂźt, faites-le moi savoir.

Si vous voulez remonter quelques annĂ©es plus haut dans l’histoire, lisez le grand classique de Christopher Paul Curtis The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, publiĂ© en 1995 et Ă©tudiĂ© trĂšs souvent dans les Ă©coles amĂ©ricaines (c’est ainsi que je l’ai dĂ©couvert au dĂ©but des annĂ©es 2000). Le roman est traduit en français sous le titre Voyage Ă  Birmingham.

La famille extravagante de Kenny (10 ans) quitte Flint, Michigan pour visiter sa grand-mĂšre Ă  Birmingham, Alabama. Ce voyage du nord au sud du pays sera comme un aucun autre et transformera non seulement Kenny et sa famille mais encore les Etats Unis.

Un livre incontournable dans lequel on apprend tant de choses, non seulement sur l’un des Ă©vĂšnements les plus sombres de l’histoire des Etats Unis et sur la discrimination raciale, mais aussi ce que tous les humains ont tendance Ă  faire : assumer sans savoir. Les Ă©tats amĂ©ricains, les villes, le climat, les accents, tout est l’occasion de dĂ©caper les stĂ©rĂ©otypes.

Tout comme One Crazy Summer, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 est un roman plein d’humour, trĂšs drĂŽle malgrĂ© son sĂ©rieux, avec une palette de personnages inoubliables, sur un sujet difficile qui divise encore trop souvent les amĂ©ricains.

La mémoire de Martin Luther King est présente aux Etats Unis à travers les avenues, les boulevards, les rues, les parcs, les squares, et bien sûr les écoles qui portent son nom.

Souvent seulement ces/ses initiales: MLK.

Interview with Chronicles from Chateau Moines author Evelyne Holingue

The Holiday Season is about giving and receiving. What a nice gift I got today! Kimberly sent it from Italy where she lives with her family. Thank you, Kimberly. To all, Happy Holiday Season.

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Evelyne Holingue book coverI’m thrilled to have Evelyne Holingue, a talented French author living and working in California, back on my web site.

Some time back, I had an author interview with Evelyne about her first YA novel, Trapped in Paris. See my post here.

I’m especially pleased to invite Evelyne back to announce her new, cross-cultural YA novel set in 1970s France – Chronicles from Chateau Moines. I love the sound of this book. I will be getting it for my french-studying son, but it will really be a ruse to read it for myself.

Evelyne, thanks so much for joining me today.

Can you give us a brief book blurb?

September 1970: Scott’s mother has recently died and his father gets the crazy idea to move his family from California to Normandy. Now Scott has to learn to live without his mom while adjusting to France. In his


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A True NaNoWriMo Story

Just a few thoughts about November and my various NaNoWriMo experiences.

The Write Stuff

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When I lived in France, November was a special month for me.

November was the literary season with awards and prizes.

November was the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau, a young wine that you don’t keep in your cellar but drink in the weeks that follow.

November was also my birthday month.

When I moved to the United States I adapted and adopted new celebrations and traditions.

I was happy that Thanksgiving happened to be in November.

Many stores now carry also the French Beaujolais Nouveau.

And I could participate to the infamous NaNoWriMo.

I have mixed feelings about this crazy race.

  • Seriously, 50 000 words sound a lot.
  • Honestly, who writes every day?
  • Really, the idea of a new draft is tempting.
  • Definitely, pressure isn’t a bad thing for writers.

So, am I doing NaNoWriMo 2014?

I am and I am not.

I started a new YA story.

I


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Favorite Children Books: Part 4

Elizabeth, who blogs at Breaking the Circle has opened her home to a series of interviews about favorite children’s books. She kindly invited me over and I gladly accepted.

If you have a little bit of time, stop by Elizabeth’s blog to read what others have to say about their favorite children’s books.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for having me over. It was a real pleasure.

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The next installment of Favorite Children’s Books is hosted by Evelyne Holingue, a published author who grew up in France and raised her children in America.  Like Aunty Uta, Evelyne’s multicultural experience lends an interesting perspective to this topic.

Tell us about yourself, Evelyne!

I had never been to the USA when the young man I met in Paris told me that he would love to live there one day. Unlike me he had been there many times, visiting both coasts extensively. Honestly, I didn’t really think about his American dreams until one night, shortly after we got married, he told me that we should go. I remember excitement and anxiety stirring inside me, working at the making of a totally foreign stew.

Retrospectively, I’m glad I agreed. Saying no to the dreams of the man I love would have been hard.  Now that we have been living in the


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Just Groovy!

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In my new middle grade novel Chronicles From ChĂąteau Moines Scott has moved from Santa Monica, California, to ChĂąteau Moines, Normandy.

He has lost his mom, doesn’t speak fluent French, and doesn’t know anyone in town. His guitar, a gift from his beloved mom, is gathering dust in his new room, above an empty store.

When he plays the record Feelin’ Groovy, he admits not feeling groovy at all.

Unlike Scott, I feel groovy today.

Marcia has posted an interview about little me on her blog Bookin’ It.

Eight-year old Stacey, Scott’s sister, would say that it is far out.

Thank you so much, Marcia, for having me over.

If you stop by my blog, pay a visit to Marcia’s.

Among many other great things, her first novel Wake-Robin Ridge made the Amazon Top 100 Best Sellers list in Fiction/Ghosts category. Bravo, Marcia!

This afternoon, I also visited the middle school kids I met last week. This time we played a word game that I had prepared for them and we wrote around some prompts that I linked to my new novel’s topics.

And they taught me to play Apples to Apples, a fun word game I didn’t know.

Again, you always learn something when you spend time with new people.

Just Groovy!

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles From ChĂąteau Moines

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Chronicles From ChĂąteau Moines, my middle grade novel, is now Released!

Check here what Publishers Weekly wrote about my novel.

Chronicles From ChĂąteau Moines is entirely a work of fiction, but the cultural, social, and historical backgrounds of the early 1970s in France and the USA inspired the writing.

The story starts on September 14, 1970.

This is back to school day in ChĂąteau Moines, a small French town.

Sylvie isn’t too happy. Her maman has said no to the pair of Levi’s and other American clothes Sylvie dreams to wear for her first day in seventh grade.

Her best friend Annie on the other side is over excited: A new boy has just moved to town. And he is American.

A Few Words About Chronicles From Chùteau Moines:

Although Sylvie is immediately drawn to Scott, looking so exotic with his American accent and perfectly faded Levi’s, she cannot say a word to him. Later that day, she can’t even write any good lyrics in her secret notebook either.

Sylvie has the feeling that this first day of school marks the beginning of a lot of unpleasant firsts.

If only she knew how Scott is feeling!

His mom has recently died and his father has moved his family from California to Normandy. Now Scott has to learn to live without his mom while adjusting to France.

On this first day of school he’s as displaced as can be. In his seventh grade class there is only Ibrahim who comes from another country. At home his eight-year old sister Stacey misses their mom very much, so Scott tries to be a good big brother, but this is hard.

Scott doesn’t even want to play his guitar anymore. Why does his father think that life will be better so far from home? This move is crazy.

While Scott and Sylvie struggle with their daily lives, the world around them is also in turmoil.

Chronicles From Chùteau Moines is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protest era and social and cultural changes in France.

Told in alternating first-person chapters, from the perspectives of Scott and Sylvie, the novel is a story about loss and friendship, music and peace, and also about secrets.

A Few Thoughts on my Mind:

When my first novel Trapped in Paris was released, I wrote this blog post.

What I wrote is still on my mind but I want to add this:

Over the last two years I have been writing almost every day. Short stories in French, two novel-length manuscripts in English… Enough material to keep me busy for a while!

I also wrote many blog posts. Keeping up with my bilingual blog is teaching me discipline and patience. I have no doubt that I have been able to revise, edit, and seek professional help to move Chronicles From Chùteau Moines from manuscript to publication, because of my blog.  

A blog exists through its readers. I cannot tell you how much your interest in my writing, your support and encouragement through your ‘like(s)’ and comments matter to me. You play a crucial role in my writing journey.

To Each of You: Thank You.

P.S. Check out Chronicles From Chùteau Moines  HERE where you can purchase either the paperback or eBook version.  You can also order Chronicles From Chùteau Moines from your favorite bookshop.

“Be Awesome, Be a Book Nut.”

Libraries have been my home away from home since a very long time.

biblio.flersIn one aisle of this castle used to be the library where I spent so much time in middle and high school. In my new novel Chronicles From ChĂąteau Moines a library and its librarian play a significant role.

 

Yesterday afternoon, I spent a few hours with a delightful group of middle school students in a beautiful library. The kids were curious, funny, lively, and kind toward each other. A dream.

The librarian had set a table in the sunny yard. She had bought cookies and filled water pitchers. It was a perfect fall day.

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The kids’ laughter and after school conversations reached me inside while I was checking my power point presentation. Excitement and a little bit of apprehension churned inside me. It’s not bad, I’ve found out, to be a little nervous before speaking in public. This unsettling combo forces me to concentrate.

If you ever met me in person you would quickly understand that I need an additional introduction to any presentation I do. I wear my French accent like a tattoo. I mean permanent, of course.

So, before questions flood the room, I always use a few slides about France, my native Normandy, and Paris where I lived before moving to the US.

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Kids, unlike many adults, have no issue with accents. As long as I agree to translate for them a variety of words and expressions – the sillier, the better – we are in business. Yesterday was no different.

After complying with their request and even agreeing to say anything in French, I went back to my slide show. Hands popped up as I spoke about writing in another language and about my published stories and novels.

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I had prepared five copies of my first novel Trapped in Paris and highlighted short passages to illustrate my presentation. Having children or teens read excerpts of your book is a good idea as long as the group isn’t too large and you get some volunteers. Yesterday I was lucky, everyone wanted to read.

  • Listening to students read your story aloud is a great experience.
  • They are active and you don’t feel like being a talking head.
  • You can finally let go of the anxiety to fully enjoy the excitement part.

When I visit a library I always end on a slide with a quote from Dr. Seuss:

“Be Awesome, Be a Book Nut.”

Before I know it, I’m finished and always a little sad that it is over. Fortunately, there are questions and comments. And the nicest part is compliments. Kids are like that. They thank you for the chance you gave them to meet you. Really, I thank them for the opportunity.

What I like most when I have guests for dinner is when they linger and that conversations go on and on


The same is true when I get to meet young readers.

This is when I’m finished that the real fun part starts. I can talk with them, ask them what kind of stories they like, who their favorite authors are, how they pick a book in a bookstore or a library.

You want to know too, right?

This bunch of mostly sixth and seventh grade girls favored fantasy, mystery, action, and graphic novels. They like real life stories too.

Some of their favorite authors are Rick Riordan, Veronica Roth, James Dasher, Gayle Forman.

Pretty impressive list, I know. They also told me that they pick a book based on its title, cover, and back cover, regardless of the author’s popularity. If these elements trigger their interest they will read the first pages and get the book or 
 not.  The fact that they aren’t only into big names is encouraging. The fact that their choice is made so quickly is not that different from the way adults pick one book versus another one.

They all wanted my book. Sweet. The library copy of Trapped in Paris had been checked out and I hadn’t brought enough copies with me.

“Can you come back next week?” a girl asked.

How do you say no to a pair of big brown eyes? The librarian smiled and nodded. Yes!!!

By 4:30 p.m. some kids were picked up. Some decided to go get a book upstairs. I stayed behind with a group of four girls and we continued our conversation.  About books, of course.

That’s what they said:

  • They don’t care if the main character of the book is a girl or a boy. They don’t care either if the author is a woman or a man.
  • They said that the boys they know read less than they do and favor boy characters. I couldn’t ask, the boys had left for sport practice, but it is a fact that the majority of kids who were at the library were girls.
  • They haven’t read each Harry Potter book (all were born after 2002) but devoured each and every book from the Percy Jackson and Olympians series.
  • They love characters who appear to be regular people – like me, said a girl – but who have special powers.
  • As for books made into movies, most see the movie before reading the book.

On my way out, under very nice thank yous and mercis, goodbyes and au revoirs, one of the youngest called me.

“There’s that book I just read,” she said. “I loved it and I think you’ll love it too. It’s called Drita My Homegirl. Maybe you can check it out?”

I went to the kids’ floor and got the book. It’s author Jenny Lombard’s first novel.

Like these kids, I always read the back cover of a book before buying it or checking it out.

“
a story that presents in alternating first-person chapters the evolution of an unlikely and difficult friendship – that of a African-American girl from the neighborhood and the unwelcome new kid in class: a girl from Kosovo who speaks no English.”

I smiled to myself. The sixth grader had noticed that Chronicles From Chñteau Moines is also told from Scott and Sylvie’s perspectives. She had also compared the two plots. Scott moves from the US to France and has to adjust to a foreign country, while Sylvie has to accept that this new boy is changing life the way she knew it. The sixth grader had also understood my own challenges when I moved from France to the US.

She’s right, I thought. It’s definitely a book for me.

I always knew that I learn more during a library visit than anywhere else.

 

 

P.S. Chronicles From ChĂąteau Moines will be released very soon. Stay with me!

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L’Espoir de l’Automne

Le petit frÚre. The little brother. Le bébé. The baby.

Mon fils sera toujours cela pour ses sƓurs et ses parents.

Alors qu’il vient de vivre sa premiĂšre semaine Ă  l’universitĂ© je sais qu’il n’est pas seulement le petit dernier derriĂšre trois grandes sƓurs.

Il est le dernier Ă  quitter la maison familiale pour vivre sa vie d’adulte. Son dĂ©part est une porte qui se ferme sur les chapitres paisibles de l’enfance et ceux plus turbulents de l’adolescence.

Le dĂ©part de mon fils pour l’universitĂ© en ce dĂ©but d’automne marque aussi l’automne de ma vie.

Cette saison, ma prĂ©fĂ©rĂ©e de toutes, rassemble cette annĂ©e les essences d’un parfum Ă©voquant la pluie, avec la mĂ©lancolie mais aussi l’espoir qui l’accompagnent.

Comme les Ă©cureuils qui se prĂ©parent pendant l’automne, cachant avec soin les glands qui leur seront si prĂ©cieux pendant l’hiver, je fais le plein des moments de bonheur de ce dernier Ă©tĂ© alors que j’étais encore une maman Ă  plein temps.

Au milieu des souvenirs familiaux de déjeuners en plein air, de ballades sur la plage, de livres lus et relus, de promenades en canoë, de diners aux chandelles, me reviennent aussi des instants fugitifs, vécus avec des gens de passage.

 

L’homme conduit un Ă©norme pick-up et traine une tout aussi grande remorque. A la station service il bloque l’accĂšs aux pompes. Sans un mot, mais avec prĂ©cision, il guide mon mari qui parvient Ă  glisser notre vĂ©hicule vers la pompe du milieu. Un hochement de tĂȘte conclut le deal. Quand nous partons il n’a pas encore fini de faire le plein et lĂšve la main en signe d’adieu.

Nous sommes à Natchitoches. Etablie par Louis Juchereau en 1714, c’est la ville la ville la plus ancienne de Louisiane.

 

« Pour votre frigo, » me dit le chef du restaurant chinois en me glissant une carte de visite magnétique. «  Et revenez vite, » ajoute-t-il avec un sourire immense.

Nous sommes à Tyler, dans une petite ville à l’est du Texas.

 

«C’est mon sapin d’automne, » me dit le propriĂ©taire du petit restaurant mexicain.

Dans l’entrĂ©e se tient en effet un sapin artificiel dĂ©corĂ© de guirlandes orange, de boules en forme de citrouilles et de petits Ă©pouvantails.

« Je change les dĂ©corations pour chaque saison et les grandes fĂȘtes, » ajoute-t-il avec un sourire. « Et les petites entre deux. »

« C’est sympa, » lui dis-je.

« Je le fais pour les gens, » dit-il. «  Tout le monde aime ça. »

Nous sommes Ă  Santa Rosa, au Nouveau Mexique.

 

Tous ces moments ordinaires qui ne font que passer sont pourtant restĂ©s dans ma mĂ©moire. Au milieu du tumulte gĂ©nĂ©rĂ© par les news, de tout ce que l’on dit et Ă©crit de nĂ©gatif sur le comportement des autres, je trouve ces rencontres Ă  peine Ă©bauchĂ©es porteuses d’espoir.

 

Pendant les trois mois d’étĂ© j’ai aussi pris beaucoup de photos. Je remarque en les triant de nombreuses petites allĂ©es qui symbolisent pour moi les possibilitĂ©s pleines d’espoir qui s’ouvrent en ce dĂ©but automne.

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Au bout de ma petite allĂ©e personnelle, il y a l’arrivĂ©e prochaine de Chronicles From ChĂąteau Moines, mon roman pour enfants.

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J’espùre que vous m’accompagnerez sur le chemin de sa sortie.

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En attendant, oĂč que vous soyez, je vous souhaite un trĂšs bel automne.

 

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