Ils sont… is a French-language picture book by New Brunswick singer-songwriter Michel Thériault, which he has adapted from his 2008 song “Roger et Mathieu” (from the album “Drôle d’oiseau”). Loosely inspired by friends of his, this story is a warm depiction of two vieux monsieurs (old gentlemen) who live in the narrator’s town, whose relationship began as friendship when they were boys and over time evolved into the happy, comfortable love they now share in their cozy country home.
Magalie Ben provides lovely, textured watercolour images that depict the couple’s comfortable retired life: working in the garden, making music, fishing, sleeping in a hammock. Curious animals appear throughout the nature-filled pages–an amusing element sure to please a child’s eye.
The poetic text is spare, merely hinting at the troubles Roger and Mathieu have experienced in their lives without naming them, leaving plenty of opportunity to look over the illustrations and reflect over what these may have been, what their lives might have looked like throughout those years. This is definitely not an action-filled story, nor does it aim to be. This is a loving portrait of two characters, a character sketch built on tenderness and affection.
Ils sont… beautifully approaches the topic of homosexuality for a younger audience–the story simply evokes the love between two people and the quiet happiness that comes from being together for many, many years–a love story that is precisely just like any other.
Michel Thériault, illustrations by Magalie Ben
Bouton d’or Acadie