Charles Perrault, La Fontaine (maybe), Le Petit Prince, Jules Verne, Babar, Tintin? French children’s literature is so little known in the English-speaking world that enquiries, even addressed to those interested in books for young readers, rarely produce more than this brief list of suggestions, despite the massive increase in recent years of interest in children’s literature and the nal acceptance of the subject as a legitimate object of academic study. In France, a number of wide-ranging surveys have appeared, though they tend to be of variable quality, or set in a European literary context, or have comparatively little to say about children’s books before the nineteenth century.1 However, much work has also been carried out more recently in France that applies modern theoretical approaches to the study of children’s books. Once again, such studies tend to consider French children’s literature alongside books written, for the most part, in English and focus predominantly on the nineteenth or twentieth centuries.2 Yet relatively little work has been published in English that considers the historical context and the specicity of books for young readers rather than incorporating them in discussion of books about children.3 My own research in the area has led to an awareness of the need for a wide-ranging and detailed examination of the wealth of primary material and of the socioeconomic, historical, pedagogic and literary factors that have informed the production and evolution of children’s books.