We develop books that take place first and foremost through the eyes of a child, rather than reflecting reality as seen by adults. Thus, all Caillou books are told from Caillou’s point of view.
Caillou’s Mommy and Daddy are not the epitome of good parents. Caillou is at a stage in his development when parents are models to be imitated; in his idealized world, his parents are perfect. He is so busy learning and developing as a person that he doesn’t question the world around himself yet.
Chouette Publishing does not wish to devalue parents or give them the impression that they are not equal to Caillou’s parents. Caillou’s adventures are primarily intended for children, but they can also serve as a “beacon” for their parents. They contain key elements to the problems adults can experience with their own Caillou.
The word “caillou” in French means pebble, which was used in a ritual created by Dr. Françoise Dolto. Reflecting her philosophy of respect for the child as a person, she asked children to give her pebbles as a symbolic form of payment for her consultations, thus giving children complete freedom of choice regarding their treatment.
Then, an event occurred that supported the choice of this name for the books. At the very beginning of the project, Christine L’Heureux heard a neighbor call out, “Caillou,” said to her child to get him to come home. Strange coincidence, isn’t it? She knew right away that this was the right name for her character.
Caillou was first conceived as a young baby, who usually have very little hair. When it came time to age Caillou for situations more appropriate for a two or four-year-old, the addition of hair would have made him unrecognizable. So it was decided that Caillou would simply not have any. Caillou was popularized without a single hair on his head.
Not everything is easy in the life of a child. Just like adults, children go through difficult periods, but they lack the communication skills to articulate everything they feel.
Caillou’s experiences are an attempt to translate the inner life of a child and his varied and sometimes contradictory feelings. In this very specific slant, the texts approach problems and conflicts typical of child development from a child’s point of view. By encouraging communication between parent and child, the Caillou books help parents deal with subjects that could otherwise become sources of frustration for children and grown-ups.
Ultimately, Caillou overcomes challenges by acquiring what it takes to deal with his frustrations.
Christine L’Heureux has deliberately chosen a traditional family environment. Caillou is surrounded by his mom, dad, little sister, and grandparents. At a time when children often see their family break up, this choice comes from the need to present, in a simple context, father and mother figures whom every child needs to build their identity.
In everyday life, the roles of father and mother, if the parents cannot hold them, can be played by other adults: the stepmother, the stepfather, the uncle, the aunt, the grandparents. The fact remains that a child needs a male model and a female model to grow up and become an adult. These are the models that the Caillou books want to present, without addressing the particularities of the current reality, to privilege the universal side of children’s needs.
Young readers recognize themselves in Caillou. They enjoy his adventures because they accurately reflect their emotions and way of life.
The work of Françoise Dolto was instrumental in creating each of the Caillou books, which are designed to help children understand what they are experiencing. Through situations taken from everyday life, they aim to put words to the emotions experienced by young children.
Caillou grows alongside his young audience and accompanies them on their exciting journey as they learn about themselves and the world around them. Caillou is the only series on the market adapted to children in each age group from birth to age six and featuring a human hero.
The Caillou series strengthens the parent-child bond. Caillou’s adventures serve adults because they present a child constantly interacting with his parents. They enlighten parents to better understand their child’s psychological and emotional development.
Caillou’s point of view is the basis for each book rather than the reality seen by parents and educators. If Caillou’s parents sometimes seem to possess only good qualities, it’s because a child of Caillou’s age still sees his parents as models to be imitated; young children normally idealize the external world.
Caillou’s world’s bright colors and simple illustrations naturally appeal to young children and quickly capture their attention. They help children concentrate on the story, making it easier to understand.