Friday 23 November 2018

ReadItDaddy's Third Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd November 2018: "Emmett and Caleb" by Karen Hottois and Delphine Renon, translated by Sarah Ardizzone (Book Island)

I rather liked the description from Sarah Ardizzone of this one. "A Fine Bromance!"
Here's a thing though, "Emmett and Caleb" by Karen Hottois and Delphine Renon (with English translation by fabulous Sarah Ardizzone) could be interpreted in lots of different ways, particularly as a book that beautifully describes a same-sex relationship.

The story of Emmet and Caleb's friendship that grows into something deeper opens out amidst the fantastic setting of the changing of seasons, as this adorable couple enjoy all the sights and sounds and fun to be had as spring turns into summer, autumn into winter.

Emmett is definitely the "Glass is Half Full" half of this adorable couple. He's always up with the dawn chorus, and loves to cook a breakfast for his best friend Caleb.

Caleb is a bit like most of us. Mornings are something of an inconvenience and don't actually exist until that third cup of coffee kicks in.

What we liked most about these characters is that their contrasting views of life also present their friendship and relationship as a series of highs and lows, rather than a fluffy and cosy idyll. In fact that's the core of the story - showing how friendships can wax and wane, but amidst a big blustering argument there's the making up too, and the realisation that a strong bond cuts through all the insignificance of a silly argument.

It's a thing of beauty this book though, I mean just look at it...!

Spring has sprung. Time for an al-fresco breakfast!
It's quite something to see a children's picture book present a really cool (and quite realistic) view of a relationship like this. I really don't think Book Island need to be shy about it either, particularly when there are so many visual touches that same sex couples are going to absolutely love.

Falling out is hard, but then there's always the making up!
There's a beautiful moment in this book when the rather grumpy Caleb finally reveals his true feelings for Emmett in a (admittedly terrible) poem. It's one of those moments where you'll almost want to burst into tears of sadness but then joy later on as Emmet realises what Caleb was trying to say (in a bit of a clumsy way). So beautifully handled.

A beautiful love story using the four seasons as a gorgeous backdrop. We think you're going to love this one!
I think this is the first time where we've read a book like this that doesn't feel like it's laying on a same-sex relationship message thickly with a trowel. It's not blaring it with a big loud trumpet, it's merely showing something emerging that the two characters have probably felt and known about for years.

The story is just so beautifully realised with characters who don't feel laboured or unrealistic. That's something we'd really like to see a LOT more of in children's picture books.

C's favourite bit: The rainbow cake. Nice touch!

Daddy's favourite bit: As a champion of LBGT lit, this has been one of the most brilliant and multi-layered books about two guys in love that we've ever read in our 8 years of book blogging. Subtle, perfectly handled, blissful stuff.

"Emmett and Caleb" by Karen Hottois and Delphine Renon is out now, published by Book Island (kindly supplied for review).