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Marc Boutavant, Ariol’s father, celebrated at the Book and Youth Press Fair in Montreuil

” I’m ten years old. » As in Alain Souchon’s song, Marc Boutavant stubbornly maintains that he has not grown up. In any case, not enough to cut oneself off from the sensitive world of childhood. “When I meet my young readers, all I need is often a look to anticipate the question that is burning their lips”he laughs, in a soft and mischievous voice.

This complicity, this proximity to imaginations undoubtedly explains a good part of the success met by the author-illustrator, celebrated these days at the Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse in Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis). Marc Boutavant has just received the “Grande ourse”, which distinguishes all of his work, “whose writing, gesture, creativity of a magnitude or a singular audacity, durably marks children’s literature”.

Ariola bookstore phenomenon

What a long way since the publication of the first Moukin 1999, sluggishly sold 300 copies! “Coming from a village in Burgundy, with a mechanic father and a mother who sold Tupperware, I had absolutely no codes for children’s publishing. My line, as well as the use of fluorescent pink, gave my album, made on a computer, a Japanese side that I was not aware of. My editor consoled me by telling me that I was ahead,” he remembers.

Two decades later, Marc Boutavant has modest success. Mouk, a tireless globe-trotting teddy bear, has won over readers around the world. Same thing for rotten dog, zany hero with a big heart, both ugly and endearing. Not to mentionAriolof which an 18e volume. Born from a fruitful collaboration with Emmanuel Guibert, first published in the magazine I like to readpublished by Bayard, the adventures of the little blue donkey have sold 1.9 million copies today.

From book to cartoon

And all these heroes have long invested the small screen. “They then entered another dimension”, notes Marc Boutavant, who then had to accept that others than him – teams of up to 80 people – take charge of staging them in cartoons. What in any case reinforce the popularity of these anthropomorphic animals. A popularity that the author-illustrator observes with renewed surprise each time he travels to classes or to fairs, in France and abroad.


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