Little Jo lost his bag of marbles. The solution to recover it? Respond to the challenge of Nils, the new “owner” of the marbles, and put on the skates to climb on the ice… “Tout feu tout glace” was imagined by fencing champion, Astrid Guyart. In search of stories to tell to her grand niece, the sportswoman went into writing and gave birth to Jo (like Olympics), a messy haired kid who lives in Olympeville.
“Jo, it was a way to give a gift to my grand niece whose parents are also champions, a way to make her dream through our sports adventures. A way, perhaps also for Astrid, to pay tribute to her grandmother. "A teacher who gave me a taste for sentences and writing, failing that of reading," laughs the foil champion, also an aerospace engineer.
Jo was born during the preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games. “I wrote the first three volumes during the competitions. It felt good because these books are about the values of sport. Writing allowed me to reconnect with this little kid that I was and who at 5 years old pushed the door of the Vésinet club to start fencing. "
"I choose the athletes according to my favorites"
In the last opus, released a few weeks ago, Jo meets skater Nathalie Péchalat, who will introduce her to ice dancing. His address book is already full since, during his previous "incredible meetings", the little boy with red hair, shared the passion of basketball player Emmeline Ndongue, foilist Brice Guyart (Astrid's brother) and handball players Daniel Narcisse and Thierry Omeyer. The athletes that Jo rubs shoulders with in his adventures are not yet the champions that the general public knows, but children, of Jo's age.
"I choose the athletes based on my favorites," says Astrid Guyart. These are not necessarily athletes who have a huge track record but people I want to set an example. To write, I need to have a feeling with the champion, to rub shoulders with him and to have a relationship of trust to then manage to tell it. His character, drawn by my illustrator on the basis of a childhood photo, refers quite widely to his memories of a young sportsman. In Jo, I put a part of myself… ”
"I have incredible feedback from children"
Thanks to Jo and the sportsmen, the children become familiar with reading, familiar with the Olympic universe and develop a taste for sport. "There is an idea of transmission," admits the author. Because little readers end up identifying with the champions who roam the adventures of Jo. "Emmeline N'Dongue (Editor's note: the basketball player, Olympic vice-champion in London in 2012) spent his time changing schools and clubs because his dad was a diplomat. So it was the common thread of my story (Editor's note: Jo's Rebound). I brought her to a new neighborhood, she lost her friends from before and must make new ones… ”
"Jo is also an opportunity to tell something other than my own journey," points out Astrid. It enriches me to meet sportspeople and talk about their experiences. Schools are inspired by Jo. “I have the opportunity to go to classes, I have incredible feedback from the children, who tell me about the values that Jo evokes for them, with their own words. Returns which push Astrid Guyart to continue on the path of writing. Especially since in 2024, the Games of Jo will take place in Paris.
The incredible meetings of Jo, editions of Le Cherche Midi. Astrid Guyart, Olivier Loyen (illustrations). 9.90 euros.