Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Dear Jeff Kinney,

 

I am very pleased to welcome you this morning to the Ministry of Culture, during your short stay in France.

In The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, "All grown-ups were children at first, but few remember them."

Dear Jeff Kinney, you are certainly among those who took a part of their childhood into their adult life.

Your remarkable ability to address young audiences with the naturalness and simplicity that characterize you is the most striking manifestation of this.

Your albums unite young people around the world, around a universe that evokes with accuracy and humour the uncertainties of childhood.

I am thinking in particular, of course, of the adventures of Greg Heffley, the “wimpy kid” who comes to life under your pencil.

For more than 10 years, this literary phenomenon has continued to arouse enthusiasm. He has made you an ambassador for reading to the younger generation, a role you assume with conviction and determination.

It is also this commitment to culture for all that has earned you the recognition of France.  

And yet, you were not prepared to become a world reference for children’s literature.

It is during your teens in Maryland that your taste for drawing is established.
 

As you aspire to become a press cartoonist, you are finally moving towards the creation of video games, of which you are yourself a great amateur, sometimes to excess. You contribute to the creation of the «Poptropica» site which offers educational games for children.

At the same time, you decide to start writing.
 

As you experiment, you create the singular format of the Deflated Journal. A format that mixes texts written like a diary with drawings that complement the story.

Through Greg’s voice and eyes, it is the joys, the sorrows and the doubts that pass through your childhood that you outline with a few black features.

Family life, friendly relationships, the small world of school are all universes in which Greg struggles to find his place. Hence comic situations that delight readers of all ages!

Thanks to your talent for writing and drawing to the height of a child, your books reach young people around the world. With your humour, you invite them to look at the concerns they all share. To enjoy with simplicity the joys of this age of life.

If your books are going around the world, it is also thanks to the action taken by the publishers of the Média Participations group, whose CEO, dear Vincent Montagne, I would like to greet.

Thank you to the teams of Abrams and Seuil Jeunesse who accompany the dissemination of your works and allow them to meet an ever wider audience.

Having become a leading figure in children’s literature, in the United States and beyond, you never cease to defend the importance of reading for all, and especially for the youngest.

A few years ago, you were the godfather of the school library association in the United States.


Along with other cultural personalities, you have defended the libraries of New York.


This attachment to libraries, these indispensable places of local culture, is common to us. It is embodied in the Libraries Plan implemented by the Ministry of Culture, which supports communities to strengthen their offerings for all our citizens.

And you even opened a bookstore in your hometown of Plainville, Massachusetts. “An unlikely story” is a welcoming, joyful and friendly place that appeals to all to be curious and to discover.


Your commitment is driven by the conviction that reading is a real pleasure.

Reading your albums convinces even the most resistant! Among them are many young people, attracted to the text thanks to your drawings.

Because it appears to be more accessible, comics play a very important role in children’s introduction to reading, and more broadly to arts and culture.

This is one of the reasons we will be showcasing comics throughout 2020.
 

This year of the comic will make known to all the vitality of the 9th art, worn by talented creators like you, dear Jeff Kinney. BD 2020 will also help to place this art even more at the heart of the artistic and cultural landscape of our country.  

 

Dear Jeff Kinney,

While you devote a lot of energy to writing your albums, but also to meeting your readers in schools and festivals around the world, you always remain very present with your loved ones.

In your family home in Plainville, you spend as much time as you can with your wife Julie and your two sons Will and Grant.

Although they are not here with us this morning, I extend a warm thought to them, because I know that they give you indispensable support.

An avid sports fan and very fond of New England, you never miss an opportunity to go with them, and with your friends, to the Celtics and Patriots meetings. Between two solo writing sessions, leaving aside your usual calm and restraint, you then fully express your remarkable sense of sharing.

It is your simplicity, authenticity and humour that make up your talent. Your writing and drawing have already touched so many readers!

 

Dear Jeff Kinney,

For everything you’ve already done,

And what else you have in store for us – maybe new adventures from Greg’s best friend, the great Rowley Jefferson?

We present you with the insignia of Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.