Phileas’s Fortune: A Story About Self-Expression

Phileas’s Fortune,  is written by French author, Agnes de Lestrade, illustrated by Valeria Docampo and published in 2010 by Magination Press, American Psychological Association.  The text is very lyrical, and holds a very simple but powerful message for children 4-8 years of age about what is important in life.  This is another book I would add to my book shelf, because no matter the age of the child, it’s meaning will grow in value and in significance.  Children will enjoy Docampo’s illustrations, which are bold and in shades of brown and red, which add tremendously to the book’s appeal and message.

Phileas lives in a very unusual land, where words are made in a large word factory.   There are beautiful, silly and ugly words, expressions,  baby words, and words that people need to speak to one another.   The words must be bought from shops, so people can swallow the words they need to speak.  However, many words cost more than others, and some people can’t afford to buy specific words.   Old words are thrown away in trash cans, where people might find and use them.  Other words can be found floating in the air and caught with nets.  That’s how Phileas caught three words one day to speak to his friend, Cybele, on her birthday.   Phileas really wants to wish Cybele  Happy Birthday and I Love You,  but he can’t afford to buy those words.   A rich bully tries to ruin Phileas’s surprise when he speaks his feelings for Cybele.   But, the love that Phileas holds in his heart for Cybele is more precious than anything money can buy.  He speaks his three words to Cybele and they settle deep within her heart.  Cybele doesn’t have any words to use, but gently kisses Phileas’s cheek.  And, Phileas responds with a word he has saved for a long time.