Every Wednesday, “Liberation” takes stock of the latest news on children’s books. Today, the new novel of the dads of “Chien pourri”, the funny and absurd story of a child called Jean-Bébé.
On page 16, all that we could have left of dignity is gone: in this dreary and sweaty subway line bringing us home, a book for 6-year-old kids made us laugh. Worse: the experience will be repeated a few pages later. No need, therefore, to struggle. Note, this was no surprise. The object of the offense, Jean-Bébé and Baby-John, published in the Mouche collection of L’Ecole des loisirs, was commissioned by the fantastic duo Colas Gutman and Marc Boutavant, parents of the no less fantastic series Rotten dog.
This time, the hero is called Jean-Bébé. His parents are very proud to have named him so; the person concerned, from the top of his 7 years, not frankly, to the point of wondering if his first name is not the result of revenge by his parents, the aptly named Belle and Sébastien. He is all the less delighted when he enters school and fears taunts. It does not miss: when the mistress makes the call, she blocks on her first name, triggering the hilarity of her little comrades.
Far from being disassembled, the kid corrects: his first name is Baby-John. “That’s English.” Which has, you will agree, much more mouth than Jean-Bébé. And who allows you to break the ice with her neighbor at the table, this brave Narta – yes, like the deodorant; her name must have been Martha, but the registrar’s guy screwed up. Baby-John therefore embarks on a patronymic lie, adopting an accent of dubious origins but certainly not English-speaking.
In the vein of Rotten Dog, Colas Gutman manages to put together a funny story for both children and their parents, who take a little guilty pleasure in immersing themselves in the fictions of their offspring. It’s absurd, it’s frosted, it can be read and reread. As for the illustrations of Marc Boutavant, far from being only small visual breaths as is unfortunately often the case in this kind of novels, they drive the nail of this universe a bit crazy.
Jean-Bébé and Baby-John by Colas Gutman and Marc Boutavant, L’Ecole des loisirs “Mouche”, 34 pp., € 6.50. From 6 years old.