“La Grande Ecole”: “Paradise, I believe in it”

It is the story of a father who lives part-time with his son and sees each separation happen with a lump in his stomach. The child is small but big enough to understand that his parents share him, he asks questions to which he sometimes knows the answers, just to reassure himself or perhaps to sow doubt in the mind of the one who incubates him. every moment of the gaze. Those who follow Nicolas Mathieu on Instagram will find in this album magnificently illustrated by Pierre-Henry Gomont these innocent little phrases dropped on the way to school, at bedtime or at the table which, all of a sudden, plunge the father in an abyss of perplexity or on the contrary provoke a burst of laughter or a puff of melancholy.

Shared father, torn child

Goncourt Prize 2018 for Their children after them (Actes Sud), Nicolas Mathieu tells in the Grande Ecole scenes that smell of lived experience. So this one on the threshold of the school, repeated a thousand times: “Who’s coming to pick me up tonight?” – Tonight it’s me, tomorrow it’s mom. I already told you earlier. Okay.” Or this other at the bakery where the father gives in to the insistent request for a croissant: “You will still have to eat in the canteen, doudou, because often you eat nothing. I don’t like, the plates smell of vinaigrette. ” Come on, these last two: “On the other hand, paradise, I believe in it. Is that so ? And why ? I don’t know but it’s better. ” “You know, you should never kiss girls by force. What is a girl of strength? ” All parents will recognize themselves in these exchanges between a father divided between the desire to see his son remain a very young child and that of seeing him grow up, and a child torn between laughter and tears, partitioning his two lives with the bigger one. seriously to the regret sometimes of the father or the mother, who would like to know what he lives when he is with the other.

A child changes so quickly, it can be heartbreaking when you miss certain steps and that is the main message of this emotional album. “This summer, you took 5 cm, you bathed in the ocean, you thought of your mom in secret, in the evening in the dormitory of the summer camp, you devoured granny’s pies, you went a everywhere, like the children of parents who no longer love each other ”, writes Nicolas Mathieu. But, whatever happens, the father will be there. “I’m waiting for you at the other end, don’t worry. Your childhood is in a safe place. You can become whoever you want. “


Alexandra Schwartzbrod

The Grande Ecole, of Nicolas mathieu and Pierre-Henry Gomont, from 5 years old, Actes Sud junior, 32 pp., 16.50 euros.

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