Just recently, the boys were asking me some questions about guns and why people have them. Among the answers, hunting was one that I gave. I explained to them that there are some people who hunt out of necessity, and some people who hunt for sport. Needless to say, my 6, 5, and 3-year-olds were more than a little mortified at the idea of people hunting for sport and trophies. I’ll be honest, I’m not very well-versed in the world of hunting. I didn’t have a lot of information for them as to why people choose to do it, especially when it comes to trophy hunting, and, to be blunt, I really have no desire to delve into it to try to understand or empathize. The boys let me know they didn’t like that people chose to do it, and we left it at that.
A few weeks later, we read Victor by Jacques & Lise, which features a trophy hunter, for who the book is titled after, and his internal struggle after he successfully hunts down a cheetah. With stunning, contrasting art on every page, the boys went on an emotional journey alongside Victor as he faced the reality of his actions. They watched as his first attempt to right the wrong he had committed was unmasked as inappropriate and tone deaf, and cheered for him as he took pause, learned from his actions and missteps, and eventually landed on a way to properly help those who he had hurt.
Truthfully, our first read through left the boys a little uncomfortable. It was a lot to process, and the boys had a myriad of questions when we were finished. Why does Victor own guns? Why does he like to kill things? Are you allowed to kill things? Why are the cheetahs sad? Will the kill Victor for killing their friend? As we worked our way through each rough topic, the boys requested more read throughs and began spending more time to pause and take in each page.
There is certainly a gravity to this book, as well as beauty. It will challenge both you as a parent and your child to ask some hard questions and really delve into them. Though my boys had some fear surrounding it, I was able to use it as an important opportunity to teach them that we must continue to learn, even if it’s uncomfortable, and to really pick apart why they felt afraid. It’s our responsibility as parents to teach our children to persevere through discomfort and to truly analyze our choices in this life, and Victor is a great teaching tool to illustrate what that looks like.