I'm in Nantes this week, and the first thing I did was ask my kind hosts to take me to a children's bookshop. I managed to restrain myself sufficiently that I only bought nine Lili-and-Max books. This is now the third I've read in the series.
Well... I must say that it's becoming clear why these books are so insanely popular with small French kids: they discuss, in an informative and relatively unsentimental way, all the things that parents are reluctant to talk about. This time, it's cancer. Lili's friend has been feeling really weird, and they've taken her to hospital. The doctors say it's a tumour. And, among other things, you get to hear all about malign and benign tumours, chemo, what it does to white blood cells, why your hair falls out, and that cancer is usually curable if you attack it early enough.
Lili's friend makes it, and the whole class treats her like a hero for having taken on the big C and won. The end is quite moving. But this series is definitely not about persuading kids that life is an easy ride, and one of the other children at the hospital dies in her sleep after her count goes down too far.
Coming up next: Max Feels He's Worthless.