Two little boys share an intense friendship.
Narrator Raphael “loves Jerome”—saying it is “easy.” Raphael doesn’t understand why his mother dismisses Jerome as “charming” or why his father says “it’s ‘a pity’ that Jerome doesn’t play soccer.” Jerome “always sees” Raphael, shares snacks, defends Raphael against bullies, and tells great stories. Spending a day with Jerome is pure nourishment for Raphael: “By lunch, we’ve laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. And by dinner, I’ve stocked up enough of Jerome to last me the whole night.” Tallec’s loose line-and-watercolor paintings use gentle humor to introduce them, placing the two boys on bikes, side by side and hand in hand, in front of a line of clearly slowly moving cars: So happy are they that they do not notice. He situates the two boys in scenes suffused in warm colors, their body language mirroring each other’s, as do their pale skin and round, red heads. But when Raphael’s parents get uptight about this bond, the palette darkens to cold, lonely blues. The text is open enough that readers will take what they need from the story. Some children will see simply two very good friends, while others will see validation of feelings they may not know how to express, particularly if their parents are as hostile as Raphael’s. Raphael gives them the language they need: “I say—yes. Raphael loves Jerome. I say it. It’s easy.”
Subtle, joyous, affirming. (Picture book. 4-8)