cover image Riley Can’t Stop Crying

Riley Can’t Stop Crying

Stéphanie Boulay, trans. from the French by Charles Simard, illus. by Agathe Bray-Bourret. Orca, $19.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-4598-2638-0

This English translation of a transitional picture book introduces audiences to Regina Bibeau and her four-year-old brother, Riley. When Regina and her single father fail to cheer up the inconsolable Riley, whose tears form a puddle around his toes and eventually fill the house, Regina draws common ailments and asks Riley to indicate the source of his sorrow. But Riley existentially draws himself, leading Regina to help her brother explore his self-presentation by trading toys; purchasing different clothing, including a skirt; and soliciting a fresh haircut. Gentle-hued watercolor and gouache illustrations by Bray-Bourret depict characters with lithe rubber hose limbs and migratory facial features, creating a comedic effect that feels incongruous with Riley’s distress. While solutions elide mental health concerns, Boulay and Simard accessibly interrogate identity: “we can express some of ourselves on the outside, but there will always be complicated things left inside that we don’t know how to show.” Ages 6–8. (Mar.)