OMG, this series is so methodical. Is there any
bad thing that might happen to a modern child which isn't covered here?
In this one, Lili and Max's father has lost his job. The kids don't at first realise what's wrong: the first sign is the very restricted choice of breakfast cereals.
"Where's the one I like with the chocolate and nuts?" whines Max. Dad, who's in a terrible mood, says that they surely don't have to buy the most expensive kind. And things hardly improve when Lili complains that the cookie jar is empty.
It gets worse. Someone calls about buying their car.
"We're getting a new one?" ask the kids hopefully. Dad explains that maybe they don't really need a car. "NO CAR???" shriek the materialistic kids, ignoring their parents' pained expressions. Whatever it is that's going on, they don't like it.
Then Dad starts turning up at school towards the end of the afternoon. Max doesn't appreciate being fetched - he can walk home by himself, thank you very much! One of his classmates called him a baby.
He's really worried, and asks his big sister what this is all about. "Is someone sick?" he wonders. "Maybe I'M sick, and they aren't telling me?" But Lili's nearly got it figured out now. "No..." she says thoughtfully. "It's nothing to do with us. It's between them. And it's about money." A couple of pages later, she has the last bit of information she needs to complete her jigsaw, and confronts them. She's hurt that her parents didn't tell her at once, and she says so.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book wasn't as inspired, but I thought these opening scenes were excellent. The author certainly doesn't talk down to children. I guess that's one of the reasons why she's so extraordinarily popular in the French-speaking world.