Title: Jerome by Heart
Written by: Thomas Scotto
Illustrated by: Olivier Tallec
Publisher: US Publisher – Enchanted Lion Books, 2018 (also the translator)
Themes: childhood friendship, affection, being understood, gender stereotyping, love
He always holds my hand,
This story follows a little boy named Raphael, whose daily rhythm is steeped in his immense affection for his friend Jerome. The two boys share jokes and snacks and plan future adventures to the Himalayas. Even when Raphael’s constant talk of Jerome is driving his parents crazy, he remains steadfast: “Raphael loves Jerome. I say it. It’s easy.” And the truth is, when he’s with Jerome, Raphael feels happy, liked, and understood? even special.(publisher)
Why I like this book:
Honoring the intensity of friendship, and, yes, maybe a friendship which could eventually turn into romance, is a lovely thing to normalize. Another aspect of the book I really appreciate is portraying boys’ friendships as loving, and not just rough and tumble, as is often the stereotype. Tallec’s tender illustrations keep Raphael and Jerome at the center of each page. People and settings are spare, but perfectly express the emotions and situations. Society and parents may resist his level of intense childhood love, but that is not going to stop our young narrator expressing it.
This book is very precious and so authentic. The abundance of love and the lack of doubt or insecurity over it – no matter outside forces – is so beautiful. For me, the author expressed that “in ;ove” feeling, when you love every fiber of another’s being, holding nothing back. This author does such beautiful gentle justice to the extent of this emotion. Oh, to adore and be adored and to want to tell the whole world about it. Just beautiful! I have been a fan of Tallec’s work for a while and interviewed him on the blog a couple of years ago. I was thrilled to encounter this French author, Thomas Scotto, whom I discovered is a celebrated author in the French youth literature scene.
As Marua Popova said in her review, “This small child with a large and full heart emerges with a courageous testament to Rilke’s abiding insistence that “for one human being to love another… is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks… the work for which all other work is but preparation.”
That’s why I love Jerome.
It doesn’t bother me at all.
Raphael loves Jerome.
I can say it.
Maybe encourage your students to write a poem about their best friend(s).
This post is part of a series by authors and children’s literature bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.