Jerome By Heart

Jerome By Heart


Written by Thomas Scotto
Illustrated by Olivier Tallec
Translated from French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick and Karin Snelson

A New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2018

This story follows a little boy named Raphael, whose daily rhythm is steeped in his immense affection for his friend Jerome. The two boys share jokes and snacks and plan future adventures to the Himalayas. Even when Raphael’s constant talk of Jerome is driving his parents crazy, he remains steadfast: “Raphael loves Jerome. I can say it. It’s easy.” And the truth is, when he’s with Jerome, Raphael feels happy, liked, and understood―even special. Thomas Scotto’s simple, strong, and insightful prose and Olivier Tallec’s delightful, expressive illustrations give much emotion and immediacy to the story.

ISBN: 978-1-59270-250-3
11.1" (W) x 8.8" (H) • 32 pages • HCJ

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A New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2018
A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2018
A Brain Pickings Best Children's Book of 2018
A Batchelder Honor Book of 2019
A 2019 Rainbow Book List Selection
A 2018 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids Selection
Selected for the 2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices List

★ "Some children will see simply two very good friends, while others will see validation of feelings they may not know how to express, particularly if their parents are as hostile as Raphael's. Raphael gives them the language they need: ‘I say―yes. Raphael loves Jerome. I say it. It's easy.’ Subtle, joyous, affirming." ―STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus Reviews

"Against the smallness of his parents’ perception, Raphael takes solace in the largeness that fills his own heart. […] a crowning addition to the best LGBT children’s books." ―Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"Illustrations that are soft yet slightly quirky showcase the deep and genuine affection between the two boys, and the temporary dissonance and isolation caused by adult disproval before Raphael affirms feelings that bring him such contentment and joy. This welcome picture book offers sweet and essential conformation of emotions that children are too often encouraged to deny or suppress, particularly when it comes to same-gender friendships/relationships, and especially between boys." —The Cooperative Children's Book Center

”…this picture book is childhood captured on the page." ―Tasha Saecker, Waking Brain Cells

"Raphael delights in his friend and in the joy and comfort he receives from him. ‘Raphael loves Jerome. I can say it. It’s easy,’ he says. His parents’ disapproval mounts until Raphael rejects it openly, scowling and walking away from them with his arms crossed, while their tall figures loom over him. It’s notable that he’s angry rather than despondent. Raphael’s righteous anger fuels his resolve to remain loyal to Jerome and to his own heart. The poignant (and satisfying) conclusion has him restating his love for Jerome as they hold hands and run together ‘from the shadow out into the light.’”―Megan Dowd Lambert, The Horn Book

"Originally published in France, this gentle, sweet-spirited story is a testament to the power of childhood friendship and the timeless power of love. The softly colored cartoonlike illustrations by Tallec perfectly capture the mood and spirit of the text, deftly translated by Bedrick and Snelson. The result is a book to treasure." ―Michael Cart, Booklist

"People and settings are spare, but perfectly express the emotions and situations." ―Katrina Yurenka, Youth Services Book Review

"Raphael, the young narrator of this groundbreaking picture book, loves his friend Jerome. ‘It doesn't bother me at all,’ the boy explains. ‘Raphael loves Jerome. I can say it. It's easy.’ Jerome is caring generous, funny, and always ready for adventure. Most important, he reciprocates Raphael's affection (‘He always holds my hand. It's true. Really tight’), even though there are intimations that Jerome is more socially adept: ‘Jerome always sees me, even when he's with friends... He defends me when kids make fun of me. Incredible, right?’ Although Raphael's parents never put a label on it, their son's intense affection for his friend and his unfiltered expression of it clearly bother them; Dad seethes, his voice ‘like sharp fish bones in my hot chocolate.’ But the bond between the boys is unbreakable, and as the book closes, they blithely walk across the street together, holding hands." —Publishers Weekly

"The sweetest, truest, purest depiction of childhood love" ―Matthew C. Winner of The Children's Book Podcast

"This flawless book is both a story of love but also the existence of adult dismissal and judgement of this kind of early love that sends young children deep into the closet without allowing them to freely be their true selves from childhood where their impulse to love who they love has yet to be formed by societies influences."―Jesica Sweedler DeHart, The Wandering Bookseller

I have been waiting for a book like this and I worried I would never see one published.” —Alec Chunn, The Stories Guy

In recent years here in the States, we’ve seen a small number of picture books with queer themes, but more often than not, it’s a picture book about parents who are gay. This sensitive and affirming story, like a beating heart laid bare, actually addresses the intense, devoted feelings of a child protagonist—and with such simplicity and eloquence. (At one point, Raphael marvels at how his mother doesn’t notice how he possesses a ‘secret hideout’ in Jerome’s warm smile.) Illustrator Tallec puts his palette to work to intensify the book’s emotional arc—from warm, effusive reds of the book’s beginning to darker hues when Raphael’s parents dismiss his feelings.” —Julie Danielson, Kirkus Reviews

"The book describes feelings children may not be able to express, including the hurtfulness of homophobia, and one child’s courage to be honest with his own feelings and loyal to a deserving friend. Colors and metaphors add meaning to an already extraordinary tale." —Susie Wilde, The News & Observer


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