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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 can say it. It's easy." And the truth is, when he's with Jerome, Raphael feels happy, liked, and understood-- even special. Thomas Scotto's simple, strong, and insightful prose and Olivier Tallec's delightful, expressive illustrations give much emotion and immediacy to the story.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"[STARRED REVIEW] 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 places 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)" --Kirkus Reviews "Originally published in France, this gentle, sweet-spirited story is a testament to the power of childhood friendship and the timeless power of love. The softly colored cartoonlike illustrations by Tallec perfectly capture the mood and spirit of the text, deftly translated by Bedrick and Snelson. The result is a book to treasure."--Michael Cart, Booklist "Raphael, the young narrator of this groundbreaking picture book, loves his friend Jerome. "It doesn't bother me at all," the boy explains. "Raphael loves Jerome. I can say it. It's easy." Jerome is caring generous, funny, and always ready for adventure. Most important, he reciprocates Raphael's affection ("He always holds my hand. It's true. Really tight"), even though there are intimations that Jerome is more socially adept: "Jerome always sees me, even when he's with friends... He defends me when kids make fun of me. Incredible, right?" Although Raphael's parents never put a label on it, their son's intense affection for his friend and his unfiltered expression of it clearly bother them; Dad seethes, his voice "like sharp fish bones in my hot chocolate." But the bond between the boys is unbreakable, and as the book closes, they blithely walk across the street together, holding hands."--Publishers Weekly