“When I’m grown up, I will buy myself a classroom, but just so that I can play in it.” Goscinny invented a child’s language that appealed to children and made their parents smile. Paired with Sempé’s wonderful drawings, the stories of Little Nicholas became international bestsellers and achieved the status of classics of French literature. The small schoolboy’s success was primarily based on the amazing closeness of a magical duo: Goscinny and Sempé. The two young authors created a whole universe. “Goscinny turned up with a text in which a child, Nicolas, talked about his life with his friends, who all had strange names - Rufus, Alceste, Maixent, Agnan, Clotaire - while the assistant principal was called Bouillon (Broth). We were on the way: René had hit on the right formula”, said Sempé. Little Nicolas’ first adventure was published on 29 March 1959 in Sud Ouest Dimanche. The response from the newspaper’s readership was enthusiastic. For seven years, Goscinny and Sempé brought alive Nicolas every single week, creating 222 stories in the process. They brought alive their own childhood memories through Nicolas and his friends. “Although I was never a Gaul or a cowboy, I was a child, as was Sempé, of course. The stories were inspired by his memories and my own memories, feelings rather than actual memories, such as the smell of pain au chocolat at the end of the school day, the atmosphere at playtime, all the bustle of childhood that Sempé really and truly captured”, said Goscinny.
* Les aventures du Petit Nicolas (French edition) are published in 14 volumes by IMAV éditions.