Michel Bussi, illustrations by Éric Puybaret

(Delcourt, 320 pages, 2018)


Corentin is different from other people. While others can speak several languages, or maybe even speak to animals, Corentin cannot. He is an awkward little boy who does not always know how to communicate with the people around him, and he has a secret: He can speak to objects. With this skill, Corentin’s world expands to places others only dream of, and makes the ordinary extraordinary.


Throughout his adventures, Corentin encounters objects of all different shapes, sizes, personalities, and opinions. When his uncle asks him to paint a ladder, Corentin tries to appease six differently colored ladder rungs who do not appreciate the order in which he arranges them, concerned that their arrangement proves one colored rung superior to the other. When he writes letters to a girl he loves, he confides his feelings in his loquacious and gossipy mailbox. He encounters an atlas who has knowledge of every place in the world yet does not have the ability to travel to any of those places. He reigns over The Valley of Tears as king, meets a small family of flowers, and listens to their familial disputes, fears, and hopes. Corentin’s adventures are a source of inexhaustible imagination, and the objects he meets are more inventive than you might expect.

 Famous for his wildly successful thrillers, Michel Bussi’s love for childhood’s dreamlike wonders and vivid imagery occupies a significant place in his novels, and Tales of the Alarm Clock is no exception. Through Corentin’s adventures, Bussi dives directly into the mind of a little boy whose imagination and fantasy have captivated him for years, displaying Bussi’s characteristic fantasy, humor, and irony: “Corentin is a childhood dream. He has been with me for a very long time. Corentin is melancholic and joyful in a cruel and fantastical world. He is a dream for children, even children who have since become parents.”


Michel Bussi is a celebrated French crime author whose work has been translated in thirty-five countries. He is a professor of geography at the University of Rouen, as well as a French political commentator. Tales of the Alarm Clock is his first book for children.

Éric Puybaret is the 1999 Bologna Ragazzi laureate, awarded to him at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. He is known for Cache-Lune (Gautier-Languereau, 2002), written and illustrated by himself, and Graines de cabanes. His American audience knows him for his work on Puff, the Magic Dragon (Sterling Publishing, 2007).