Children’s literature is not just cute cubs and schoolchildren’s nonsense. She knows how to deal with painful and difficult subjects to raise awareness or support children in the face of the harshness of the world. But society struggles to face the issue of incest, and authors and publishers are no exception. Few books for children tackle this thorny subject, while the youngest are primarily concerned. How do you tell a reader of 5, 8 or 12 years old?
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Florence Dutruc-Rosset chose the tale. Youth author for thirty years, former editor-in-chief ofAstrapi, now at the helm of magazines My First Beautiful Stories and the Beautiful Stories, at Bayard, it released in November the mouthless princess. An album illustrated by Julie Rouvière, in which a young princess is the victim of nocturnal and secret visits from her father king. “He touched her like no daddy has the right to, in a way that didn’t respect her.” He touched her as if she were his wife, which is forbidden to all dads on Earth ”, can we clearly read it.
The princess dreams that her mother knows, that she protects her. But the queen, like many mothers faced with such a situation, does not see, does not hear, or prefers to act as if. The little girl then finds herself alone in the face of her suffering, cannot confide in anyone and, by dint of not speaking, sees her mouth disappear.
One autumn day, in the forest, she comes across a hunter. He shoots a doe in front of her, injures her. Faced with this unbearable scene, the princess finds her mouth again. The one that allows him to scream a «non» visceral. She will watch over the doe, take care of it, until the animal is back on its feet. The treatment that the young girl dreamed of being devoted to her. Florence Dutruc-Rosset explains to Release the reasons for this work.
Why did you choose to approach incest?
I wanted to talk to children about the subject they are told the least, the most serious, the most incomprehensible and the most destructive of all the abuses they can suffer. There are hardly any books on it, in any case no tales, stories. Children are much more victims of this violence than you would like to think. The taboo protects the aggressors and the word protects the children. Lifting the taboo is the best asset for them. And the earlier children are taken into care, the less serious psychological consequences they have in their lives.
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Why did you choose the form of the tale?
Symbolic images are powerful in this kind of theme, which cannot be faced in a way that is too brutal or too concrete. The tale allows to speak at the level of the heart, not just at the level of the mind, of the logical and rational understanding of the child. Mankind has used myths and legends a lot to try to understand, to advance on the path of life and to heal itself.
Did you write this book specifically for child victims of incest?
It is a story of a child’s emotional wound healing, so he can speak to children who have been hurt for X reasons in their family, who may not have experienced sexual pain. There is no more powerful than the character of the king. He is a person of authority, so you can project his story onto any adult who has authority. It is not because we did not experience the same thing as the hero of the book that we cannot identify with it and find something in him that speaks to us.
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I want to show children that there is a healing path, that they have sufficient strength in them, that we can meet caring people who help you and that we are not all alone locked in our silence . There are issues. It’s part, I hope, of healing tales.
What has your work with Mélanie Dupont, psychologist at the Hôtel-Dieu medico-legal unit and president of the Center de victimologie pour minors association, brought you?
I wondered how the parents were going to receive a story like this, if they weren’t going to feel bad, and she encouraged me a lot, said a lot that I had to be free to speak. The things we can name are much less active, terrifying.
I also had a reflection with her on the reception of the child. Will it shock him, traumatize him, scare him? She told me no: children do not have the same knowledge as we do, they simply receive the truths that disturb us much more easily. Children who are told that the country next door is at war, that the people have guns there and are killing themselves, are not afraid. And traumatized children, this story is supposed to do them good: we finally recognize their story, their suffering, words are put on what they have suffered. It can be a support for them, an opportunity to speak.
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The Mouthless Princess, by Florence Dutruc-Rosset, illustrated by Julie Rouvière, Bayard Editions, 40 pp., € 13.90. From 5 years.