This is the first book I ever read in French--and I was 26 at the time! Embarrassing, perhaps, but due to the weakness of my French, this simple little tale was more of an intellectual exercise than reading Kant (OK, OK, perhaps that's an exaggeration)! It was surprisingly poignant, I must say, and I came damned near close to getting teary-eyed a couple of times. The simple emotions of the protagonist, who is just a little boy, were portrayed with simple language, and their effects were simply heart-wrenching. He's a little boy who wears a cool countenance, whose parents essentially ignore him, and whose only friend is his grandmother. Before going on a vacation, she gives him a teddy bear (or "nounours," in the French edition), which his awful parents try to take away from him immediately. Thankfully, his grandmother shoos them away from such an idea, and the little boy and the bear become great friends. It sounds quite formulaic, and indeed the story is nothing to write home about. But sentences like these really choked me up. In the French edition, it reads:
"Et Nounours savait que j'avais peur que ma mère me laisse et ne revienne jamais! Je sais que c'était stupide mais parfois je ne pouvais pas m'empêcher d'avoir peur."
My attempt at translating would be:
"And Teddy knows that I am afraid that my mother will leave me and never return! I know that I am stupid but sometimes I can't stop myself from being afraid."
Interestingly enough, it seems so much sadder in French.
Reading this has made me curious about books I read, or my parents read to me, when I was very young. I can't remember any of them as being very affecting, emotionally, but perhaps if I re-read them now I'd feel differently.