Life Style

“Let’s encourage children to cultivate their singularity”

The cross : How do you write for young audiences?

Mr Tan: We do not write for childhood, but for childhood. You have to live in this place of life to be sincere with young readers. I created Adèle when I was 14. At 39, I feel like I’m living with her, raising her. My job is not to write gags but to look at the world through her. The mistake many writers of children’s literature make is to fabricate what they believe to be a speech intended for children. However, the latter perceive immediately when we tell them stories. Aldebert and I don’t have adult postures, even in our everyday lives. We are truly in the energy of childhood.

→ PORTRAIT. The cartoonist Antoine Dole, in the light of childhood

Aldebert: This can sometimes be a problem! (Laughs) At no time did I feel like I was wearing a children’s singer costume. But I want to keep this part of childhood with its values: imagination, spontaneity, enthusiasm. It is a driving force, a great creative space.

Mr T .: There is a sentence from Brel which says: It does not exist adults, it is an attitude. We spend a grown-up life looking for answers that are present from childhood. How to behave with others? How to love ? What keeps us alive? When you consult a shrink at 40, he will not treat the adult but will address the child in you to try to bring back memories or traumas to the surface. From a young age, I know that I want to create, draw, write, sing… As I grow up, these desires can be damaged or constrained. Keeping a child’s soul is trying to keep an eye open on what vibrates in you and makes you happy. Once you understand this and manage to share it, you can reach the children.

What is the key to success when you talk to them?

TO. : At no time did I tell myself that there was a method. The relationship is very frontal with the children. The answer is done or not. The CD Childishness didn’t hook too much because it wasn’t labeled young audience. I was told I messed up. At Fnac, they didn’t know where to put it. Finally, the album gradually reached families.

Mr T .: The secret of Mortal Adele and Childishness lies in cohesive creations, which do not care what will appeal to children and adults.

In your last album, Aldebert, you write: “Stay on the merry-go-round for a bit, don’t grow up, it’s a trap. »How to grow well?

TO. : Many adults completely desert childhood. They can therefore have a faded side. All my life I have been told: Grow up a little! By force, I made it my job: immature! Of course, it’s good to grow up too. I don’t want to relive my childhood or my adolescence at all. Surely not ! But I want to preserve the things that I liked when I was little.

Mr T .: For many, growing up is necessarily falling into something that covers childhood, while there is a real continuum between these two ages of life. Aldebert invites us to come back to this merry-go-round that childhood can be, to take things less seriously, to let go. Giving free rein to his emotions scares adults but brings us back to the side of life.

Do we trust children enough when they read works?

TO. : There are several levels of reading. When I listened as a child The gorilla, de Brassens, I thought it was a song about a great ape. Later, I understood that she was talking about the death penalty. In my last album, the song The monster presents several types of fantastic creatures which also embody the fear of the other, of elsewhere.

→ READ. The children’s song that also appeals to adults

Mr T .: Youth works are subject to many fantasies, even controversies. Some parents find Mortelle Adèle horrible because they think their children are invited to imitate her. However, books are not there to educate readers, but to open up the field of possibilities. If, tomorrow, a child puts a cat in a microwave, it’s not because he read it in a comic book but because he has a deeper problem.
Education builds walls around children, which shelter and protect them, but sometimes also lock them up … During writing workshops that I led in certain corners of France, I was told that my book was the only work to enter the house. These children grow up in a closed room of thought that is that of their parents. Books are windows that allow them to observe the world around and inside them.

How to help children face the challenges of today and tomorrow?

Mr T .: According to some surveys, young adults say they no longer plan to have children. For the first time, today’s generation no longer projects beyond itself, where the older generations still had the hope of getting through difficulties. I find that scary. Hence the need to encourage children to cultivate what makes them unique and to change this world that does not suit them.

Do children have to get angry, like Greta Thunberg, to be heard by adults?

Mr T .: Anger is Greta Thunberg’s tool for dealing with adults who tell her to shut up. The world also belongs to children. The younger generations must learn to question the word of the adult, to make heard what they want to make of this world. Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they can’t do great things. Children must be taught the right disobedience, the one that makes sense and that helps you build the world you want to live in.

→ FOCUS. “Mortelle Adèle”, “Saute-la-puce”: when children’s song broadens its audience

TO. : Without lecturing them or being too frontal, I want to awaken them to a vision of the world which can be transgressive, which awakens other visions of the world. We have this responsibility.

Mr T .: Some readers have told me that they don’t let themselves be bothered in the playground anymore. It’s extraordinary to think that nearly 10 million readers of Mortal Adele have this courage in the back of their minds.


The two children’s stars

TOyoune Dole, 39 years old.

Writer of comic series and author of books for young adults, he has just signed his first general literature novel, Six feet on the ground (Robert Laffont). In 2012, under the pseudonym of Mr Tan, he created the series Mortal Adele, published by Tourbillon (a subsidiary of Bayard, publisher of The cross). First illustrated by Miss Prickly, then Diane Le Feyer, the 18 volumes of the series, the two special albums and the two illustrated novels have sold nearly 9 million copies, including 4 million in the last twelve months. .

Guillaume Aldebert, 48 years old.

Writer of songs with texts, he won the Radio France Trophy for French songs in 2003 for the album On site or to take away. With the series of albums Childishness (500,000 sales since 2008), it becomes the star of the playgrounds. Childhood 4 came out at the end of August.


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