Wednesday 1 July 2020

Claris The Chicest Mouse in Paris | Megan Hess #PictureBook

Every time I see these very chic, very elegant picture books, I want to say Cla-reece. I have an acquaintance called Cla-reece. However to read these stories, I have to make a huge mental effort to say 'Paris-Claris' in my head a few times to find the rhyme.

I've been saving this post for today, the very first day of July, to help me get Paris in July off to most graceful, glamorous start possible! If you're not sure what I'm talking about (where have you been darling?) then pop over to Tamara's Thyme for Tea blog to check out the coins et recoins.

2020 is the tenth anniversary of Paris in July. To celebrate this year's theme of élégance, I've invited Claris and Megan Hess to the party. Hess is an international fashion illustration with an expanding range of fashion design picture-books-for-adults on her catwalk, including one all about Coco Chanel, (which may explain my unexpected fascination in such girly, frilly books to those who know my ongoing intrigue with Coco). Other books include Paris Through a Fashion EyeThe DressIconic and Elegance.

Claris The Chicest Mouse in Paris, Hess' first picture book for children, was published in August 2018. From the gorgeous end papers littered with pink dresses and pink & gold bling you know that this foray into the world of fashion will be as girly-girl and frilly as you can get!

I always experience a weird conflict when I read these books. My younger self was a tomboy with a capital T. From about age 8, I hated wearing dresses or anything resembling pink. It has taken marriage and a family of boys to help me embrace pretty clothes and the colour pink. As I read these picture books I move between eye rolling tomboy exasperation to gushing girly awww's as I make my way through all the intense, non-stop cuteness that defines and decorates each page.

Claris is a Vanity Fair reading, éclair eating country mouse who dreams of the big city and fashion and frills. She also ‘longed for an elegant friend of her own.’ A chance meeting with two stylish frogs, ‘one in a beret’,and she is whisked her away in a hot air balloon and on her way to Paris!

However, Paris and dreams come true, not easy. 

Claris has to find herself a new maison in which to live, only to find herself at the mercy of snotty, snitchy daughter and a grey cat! Instead of allowing fear to rule her life, Claris takes a chance, a big risk, in fact, to save the grey cat...from the snotty daughter and sartorial disaster!

Naturally Claris and Monsieur Montage become fast and best friends. He helps Claris with discarded dolls house furniture so she can furnish her new apartment in the attic. And he gathers together all the old doll's clothes rejected by the snooty daughter. Claris gets to work, turning them into works of art for herself and her friend. Her motto is ‘you should always be brave and help someone in need.

Some of the rhymes are not as elegant as the illustrations, which makes reading this book aloud a bit de trop. But I suspect you're turning the pages in this book for the fashion and bling, the charm and the colour, and for the glimpses of Paris life, not the rhyme.


Claris and the Fashion Show Fiasco was published in 2019. The end papers are adorned with yellow dresses and pink & yellow bling. 

It is now springtime in Paris and life is tres belle. This is the season of the fashion show! 

A mishap at the breakfast table means that Claris' family leave without their fashion show invite. Claris, with the help of Monsieur Montage, is determined to save the day. Together, they embark on an adventurous, stylish and iconic journey across Paris on their way to the Chanel show. 

The adventure comes with a map and includes the reappearance of the two stylish frogs from book one. We also meet more animal friends, all enthralled by fashion week in Paris.

Once again, adventure, bravery and friendship are the dominant themes, while kindness, chic and savoir faire are the main flavours.

Claris, Bonjour Riviera is Hess' latest worked published earlier this year. This time our end papers feature blue dresses and blue themed fashion bling. 

Summer has arrived in Paris and the très chic thing to do is holiday on the Riviera, at the Hotel du Cap, no less! The two stylish frogs, plus all the other animal friends from the fashion show, arrive in the hot air balloon for a ‘fabulous soiree.

Naturally, Claris finds an adventure and another opportunity to practice being brave and helpful. This time she rescues a song bird whose wing gets stuck in a thorn. Valerie from Antibes is a bit of a diva, but spectaculaire nonetheless.

Teamwork and bravery is it's own reward of course, but Claris also enjoys the excitement of a new friendship and the pleasures of brie and camembert!

Each book features a fashion spread with six images of Claris dressed in Chanel, Dior, Hermes, Pucci etc. This is where Hess excels. Her love and enthusiasm for the fashion world spills over into every design for Claris.

The final page of each book reveals Hess in one of the dresses she loves so much, surrounded by her illustrations.

I hope you agree, that this has been a truly elegant, truly Parisienne way to begin our #ParisinJuly 2020 tour. 

Bonne nuit and bonne lecture!


  1. This July in Paris I'm thinking about two types of posts that people make: those about an imaginary Paris (in books and many TV shows) and those about some more reality-based version of Paris (also can be in books or video, but can be actual experience too). Claris is definitely in the imaginary realm, but what a darling! I love the idea of high fashion for a mouse, and I like the slight reference to the old fairy tale about the country mouse.

    Great post!

    be well... mae at

    1. She is a darling and she now also has a search and find book, Where is Claris in Paris :-)

  2. It sure starts Paris in July with a fanfare! Just love the illustrations, so classy, so French. One could print them and put them on the wall.

    1. If you click on the link attached to Hess' name above, you can see the shop, where she sells not only the books, but also prints and other bling.

  3. This is so adorable! I love this. The illustrations are gorgeous - I will have to see if I can find them!

    1. There are illustrations/posters for sale on Hess' webpage attached to the link with her name above :-)

  4. This is exactly how I want to start my visit to Paris this July. Tristement this book is not available at my public library but I have now added it to my TBR. I'm all about the beauty, the deliciousness, the now-ness of Paris, and this book seems to have lots of these things.

    1. I hope you can find a copy one day Deb. It is lovely and brightens up a dull day no end! She also now has a search and find book called Where is Claris in Paris?

  5. Thanks for sharing this, such Lovely images

  6. Oh, Brona -- how I adore this post! I love books like this, delightful books that children will love and adults too. It is simply charming and perfect in every way. Now I must be on the lookout for this to add to my collection!

    1. They are very sweet indeed and I hope you can find them online or in your library soon.


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