Many of us rediscover picture books when we have children of our own and some of us are reluctant to ever let them go again. The wonderful Oliver Jeffers and Lauren Child are the backdrop to recent childhoods but with authors such as Shaun Tan to explore we shouldn't be too quick to turn away from visual storytelling. It's worth keeping an eye out for new authors and illustrators too... Recently published by Little Gestalten The Story of Mademoiselle Oiseau keeps alive a sense of wonder while pondering the nature of friendship, dreams and growing up. Though it begins with a rather bleak description of Isabella... "a nine year old girl who is practically invisible. Her eyes are tray, as gray as the school yard and just as gray as Isabella's face and lanky hair. There is nothing special to say about Isabella Artioli." So it's such a relief when this shy girl's life blossoms into a whirl of picnics, pool parties and camping trips with the elusive and irrepressible Mademoiselle Oiseau who lives on the top floor of a lovely old Parisian apartment building in the Avenue des Temps Perdus. Written by Andrea de La Barre de Nanteuil, a public relations manager for a large fashion house, the book was inspired by the Paris of the 1920s and 1930s. And atmosphere captured and conveyed by Lovisa Burfitt's swift, impressionistic illustrations. Like all good picture books their work adds up to something (to use the words of Mademoiselle Oiseau) "more real than reality".