best of year 2009

Here’s my official Favourite Book of the Year, happily sitting on my desk, which I found in my favourite Brussels bookshop, Tropismes, by Alexandra Pilchard. It’s a baby board book called Herman et Dominique, about a mousy-looking man named Herman who has an intimate relationship with a mussel named Dominique. But Dominique leaves him, so he shacks up with an oyster named Marie-Claude, until Dominique suddenly returns to him… with chips.

I wish we had more baby books like this, French language publishers totally rock. I love how the book fits into my hand and opens just like a mussel.

Every morning at seven, Herman wakes up Dominique, his pet mussel. Then he takes her for a walk before going to work.

Then Herman makes soup. Dominique always lets it sit to cool for a few minutes before swallowing it.

It’s on the island that he makes the acquaintance with Marie-Claude, a regional oyster. Marie-Claude loves nature, horses and cultural outings.

Hee hee, even with the moustache, Herman looks a little bit like Stuart. (You can buy it here on

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