Jane, the Fox and Me

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Jane, the Fox and Me

by Fanny Britt
Illustrator Isabelle Arsenault
Translated by Susan Ouriou

Groundwood Books Ltd | September 1, 2013 | Hardcover

Jane, the Fox and Me is rated 5 out of 5 by 1.

A New York Times Best Illustrated Book

Hélène has been inexplicably ostracized by the girls who were once her friends. Her school life is full of whispers and lies - Hélène weighs 216; she smells like BO. Her loving mother is too tired to be any help. Fortunately, Hélène has one consolation, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Hélène identifies strongly with Jane's tribulations, and when she is lost in the pages of this wonderful book, she is able to ignore her tormentors. But when Hélène is humiliated on a class trip in front of her entire grade, she needs more than a fictional character to see herself as a person deserving of laughter and friendship.

Leaving the outcasts' tent one night, Hélène encounters a fox, a beautiful creature with whom she shares a moment of connection. But when Suzanne Lipsky frightens the fox away, insisting that it must be rabid, Hélène's despair becomes even more pronounced: now she believes that only a diseased and dangerous creature would ever voluntarily approach her. But then a new girl joins the outcasts' circle, Géraldine, who does not even appear to notice that she is in danger of becoming an outcast herself. And before long Hélène realizes that the less time she spends worrying about what the other girls say is wrong with her, the more able she is to believe that there is nothing wrong at all.

This emotionally honest and visually stunning graphic novel reveals the casual brutality of which children are capable, but also assures readers that redemption can be found through connecting with another, whether the other is a friend, a fictional character or even, amazingly, a fox.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 104 pages, 11.25 × 8.5 × 0.59 in

Published: September 1, 2013

Publisher: Groundwood Books Ltd

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1554983606

ISBN - 13: 9781554983605

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unknown Gem! I consider this to be the best graphic novel I have ever read, even though "Jane, the Fox, & Me" is targeted towards girls in middle school, My inner critic insists that this declaration speaks to my mental/emotional makeup, but I disagree. I feel that it speaks to the quality of the book. So shut up, me, and listen to why this book is great. The story centers around Hélène, a young girl who is being ostracized by girls who used to be her friends. She escapes the teasing by diving into the world of Jane Eyre. Fanny Britt draws parallels between Hélène and Jane that help elucidate her protagonist's inner world. Eventually Hélène makes a human connection and regains her sense of hope. As a playwright/author, Britt imbues her work with beautiful words, a quality possessed by very few graphic novels these days. Isabelle Arsenault matches the lovely words with her lovely illustrations. She also does some clever work with colour. I love the way Hélène's dreary world is done in shades of gray, but when she is engrossed in Jane Eyre, her inner world is in full colour. The fox she connects with on her class camping trip is the first colourful thing to creep into her external world, before her bunkmate scares it away. But Hélène soon makes a new friend, and as she comes out of her depression, we see dashes of colour replacing the grey. The book ends on an optimistic note, with a picture of Hélène walking out of the grey industrial world, towards a lush, green forest. Anyway, enough about the colour. The relationship between Hélène and her mother is just heartbreaking. The shopping scene, the weigh-in, and most of all, the Crenoline Dress. Oh my gosh, that part will hit you right in the gut. I don't want to spoil anything though. There is also a plethora of subtle details that enhance the overall book. For example, when Hélène refers to her snobby ex-friends, their names appear as each girls' signature, rather than the standard typeset. Each signature conveys something of the girl's personality to you, mostly that they're terrible. Also, Hélène's little brothers are inexplicably depicted as ninjas, and somehow it works. They don't say a word in the story, but the ninja outfit says it all about them. Another amusing background detail is the camp counselor dancing and singing "Hot, Hot, Hot" like the upbeat dinks all camp counselors are. Meanwhile, Hélène lays before him crouched in shame. That panel says so much, much more than I can explain, at any rate. It is a great demonstration of why graphic novels are their own distinct art form, and not just novels with nice pictures. And so, inner critic, who scorns pubescent literature and graphic novels alike, I hope you now see that "Jane the Fox, and Me" is a beautiful, funny, and tragic book, that ends on a redemptive note. While I would recommend it to just about anyone, this book would be all the more powerful to any bookish girl over the age of 10.
Date published: 2013-11-15

– More About This Product –

Jane, the Fox and Me

by Fanny Britt
Illustrator Isabelle Arsenault
Translated by Susan Ouriou

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 104 pages, 11.25 × 8.5 × 0.59 in

Published: September 1, 2013

Publisher: Groundwood Books Ltd

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1554983606

ISBN - 13: 9781554983605

From the Publisher

A New York Times Best Illustrated Book

Hélène has been inexplicably ostracized by the girls who were once her friends. Her school life is full of whispers and lies - Hélène weighs 216; she smells like BO. Her loving mother is too tired to be any help. Fortunately, Hélène has one consolation, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Hélène identifies strongly with Jane's tribulations, and when she is lost in the pages of this wonderful book, she is able to ignore her tormentors. But when Hélène is humiliated on a class trip in front of her entire grade, she needs more than a fictional character to see herself as a person deserving of laughter and friendship.

Leaving the outcasts' tent one night, Hélène encounters a fox, a beautiful creature with whom she shares a moment of connection. But when Suzanne Lipsky frightens the fox away, insisting that it must be rabid, Hélène's despair becomes even more pronounced: now she believes that only a diseased and dangerous creature would ever voluntarily approach her. But then a new girl joins the outcasts' circle, Géraldine, who does not even appear to notice that she is in danger of becoming an outcast herself. And before long Hélène realizes that the less time she spends worrying about what the other girls say is wrong with her, the more able she is to believe that there is nothing wrong at all.

This emotionally honest and visually stunning graphic novel reveals the casual brutality of which children are capable, but also assures readers that redemption can be found through connecting with another, whether the other is a friend, a fictional character or even, amazingly, a fox.

About the Author

Fanny Britt is a Quebec playwright, author and translator. She has written a dozen plays (among them Honey Pie, Hôtel Pacifique and Bienveillance) and translated more than fifteen. She has also written and translated several other works of literature. Jane, the Fox and Me is her first graphic novel.

Isabelle Arsenault is a very talented Quebec illustrator who has won an impressive number of awards and has achieved international recognition. She has illustrated Migrant by Maxine Trottier, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and a finalist for the Governor General's Award; Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, winner of the Governor General's Award; Le coeur de monsieur Gauguin by Marie-Danielle Croteau, winner of the Governor General's Award; and My Letter to the World and Other Poems by Emily Dickinson, a finalist for the Governor General's Award. She has also illustrated Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean Pendziwol and Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt, forthcoming from Groundwood. Isabelle has won the Grand Prix for illustration (Magazines du Québec) for six years running. She lives with her family in Montreal.

Susan Ouriou has translated children's, young adult and adult literature from Spanish and French into English and is a novelist herself. She lives in Calgary, Alberta.

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