by Gilles Tibo
illustrated by Suana Verelst
Mathieu is a little boy who gets up to no good. He stomps on the remote control his father refuses to be parted from; he buys a new one. He smashes a flowerpot at his mom’s; she doesn’t say a word.
Mathieu is sad, you see. His parents are separated, his mother in love with another man. He spends hours and hours in front of three photographs. His favourite—he has looked at it so many times, his gaze has worn it out a little around the edges—shows Mathieu in his mom’s arms, and she is in his dad’s arms. As Mathieu points out, they wouldn’t look so happy if they took a photograph today. Now they would all be in three separate photos.
This short little book for younger readers is simple and touching throughout. It gives a voice to the Mathieus of this world. The little boys we pass in the street, the ones playing alone in the park. They have, author Gilles Tibo writes at the end of the story, been hurt by life. They are suffering from a lack of attention, a lack of love.
Tibo’s writing lets us hear their suffering, their cries for help. The first minute of the title is, predictably enough, the first minute of the rest of his life, but with good books, as with good vacations, getting there counts every bit as much as the destination.
Review by Peter McCambridge
Read an excerpt in translation here.