Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Saturday and Sunday, Vol. 2: Hearts of Palm by Fabien Vehlmann and Gwen De Donneval

Sometimes you just want to point back at what you said about the first book in a series and say: "Yes, that, but again, with a different story and some new wrinkles."

But that would make an awfully short blog post.

Fabien Vehlmann and Gwen De Bonneval have made comics together before starting the "Saturday and Sunday" series for young readers - I saw their Last Days of An Immortal almost a decade ago, and that's not the only project they did together - and I have no idea how they turned to works for pre-adults. (My guess, always, is that one or both of them obtained some pre-adults in their own households, and that led to the usual changes in life and focus.)

They're also both French, and - as I said in that first blog post that I will link to, yes, but not yet - at least in the French books for young readers that get translated, there seems to be a different emphasis, less of a concern for instruction and more on exploration.

So, anyway, the first book in this series was Rock Heaven. (See: I told you I'd get to the link eventually.)

And the second one is Hearts of Palm, which is what I should be talking about today.

Saturday and Sunday are two little lizard guys who live on a beach, somewhere that seems vaguely tropical or at least lush and full of life in the season these stories take place. They're young, as far as I can tell, without a huge experience of life. In the first book, they seemed to just be there, mostly alone and on their own, but this second book connects them to a community - all of the other lizards live underground just away from their beach.

The elder lizards want to stay underground, where all are safe from dangers known and unknown. The young ones want to leave right now, live somewhere else, do new things, run around like crazy, partake in some of the substances available on the island, and probably spend a lot of time pairing up.

Saturday and Sunday are not exactly leaders, but they're people who have done and seen more than most, so they're influential, and used by both sides as examples (for and against) and dragged in to bolster arguments that have nothing to do with them.

The other major plot thread is love - Sunday is a bit of a player, happily dating one girl and then another without any obvious guilt or concern. Saturday falls harder, with a Charlie Brown-level crush on a girl he can't quite figure out how to talk to. She, of course, also talks to other boys, which ties him in knots. And there's another girl, pointedly less obviously attractive, who is interested in him and who he blows off even more than his inamorata does to him.

None of this is stated; no one learns a lesson or is told the best way to live. Vehlmann and De Bonneval tell the story, confident that their audience, as young as it is, will pick up on the details and figure out how to apply them.

This is not a plotty book: the central through-line is about Saturday's love affair, with the youth explosion of the lizards as background. And there are plenty of things young readers - or even older ones - could take away from it; Vehlmann and De Bonneval are sneaky and thoughtful and wise in the way they set up this story and give all of their characters room to make decisions. Those decisions are good or bad or indifferent, but always theirs, which is the most important thing.

If you have pre-adults of the right ages - I'd say late elementary or early middle school, just before or as they're starting to look around and take note of their individual alluring ones - this is a good series to make available to them. Or read it yourself: that's always a good choice.

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