Hazelnut Days

Emmanuel Bourdier, illus. by Zaü. Minedition (IPG, dist.), $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-988-8341-54-2
Dad is a garrulous, burly man with a gold tooth, who smells of cigarettes and peppermint aftershave. He is also in prison. Bourdier does not reveal why Dad is there, although there are plenty of clues that it’s for something serious: there are references to his temper, and his young son, who narrates, notes that by the time Dad gets out, he will be “too old” to win a footrace with his child. The boy’s weekly, hourlong visits with Dad are emotionally tumultuous. While he loves and identifies with his father, he also chafes at Dad’s attempts to be an authority figure (“He tells me I have no right to do so poorly in school—it’s my only chance to avoid becoming like him”), and he sees how his adored mother’s eyes turn sad and “foggy.” The meaning in some of the poetic language might be a reach for the intended audience (Dad is described as “a void maker, a ghost king, a fog machine”), but Zaü’s smudgy, sepia-toned charcoal sketches are striking for their emotional frankness and accessibility. Ages 4–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/12/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
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