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 Bronte’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 allow her 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.
Isabelle Arsenault is an internationally renowned children’s book illustrator whose work has won many awards and much praise from critics. Her books include Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, Cloth Lullaby by Amy Novesky, and Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt, which was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book. The poetry expressed through Isabelle Arsenault’s graphic universe, the gentleness of her lines and the overall charm of her books have made her one of Quebec’s best-known and most esteemed illustrators.
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