Two strangers meet and bond over shared struggles with disability and a fondness for straws in Boulerice and Côté-Lacroix’s debut collaboration.
Florence loves to swim and gets rewarded with a tasty drink and swirly straw whenever she swims the fastest. Leon tries hard on his soccer team and comforts himself with juice and a giant straw whenever he loses. Some years later, as adults, Florence, a swim teacher with obstructed breathing, and Leon, an insurance salesman with tunnel vision who uses a white cane, meet by chance and get to know each other over lunch and drinks with straws. This relatively unfettered narrative is rendered stiff by missteps, possibly due to translation. Simple sentences feel stilted, as if they’ve been translated word for word rather than for ideas and meaning. Even good translation, however, cannot save poor craft. Eschewing any semblance of plot in favor of an extended meet-cute, this narrative misses full, nuanced representation of disabled characters by a mile—insinuating, for instance, that disclosure of disability is somehow compulsory between acquaintances. The one saving grace is the illustrations. Light and uncluttered pencil drawings with splashes of cheery red and yellow make excellent use of white space to connect scenes of spot art and, in contrast to the text, visually render elements of each of the white character’s experience with disability with confident accuracy as Florence and Leon explain each of their impairments using straws as a metaphor.
A try for “sweet and refreshing” that lands squarely in “thoughtless and stale.” (Picture book. 3-7)