Jane, the Fox & Me written by Fanny Brit, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, and translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou

Jane, the Fox and Me coverHélène is struggling with a dreary school life of no friends, teasing and poor self-image. Her current strategy for respite is in reading Jane Eyre and reflecting upon how, despite the great adversity she faces as she grows up, Jane remains resilient to the things that unfold in her life.

Much to her dismay, Hélène learns that her class will be spending four days together at an isolated nature camp in the woods. It’s bad enough to have to deal with rejection and teasing during school hours. Having to spend time away from home is something that Hélène certainly is not looking forward to.

While it is somewhat helpful to escape in reading, she is still not immune to the her classmates’ bullying at camp. She bunks with the other “outcasts,” but can’t break the ice. Just when the bleakness is starting to feel all-encompassing, she experiences a moment of connection with a fox. She is inches away from petting it when one of her bunk mates spooks it away.

Hélène is about to give up on hope entirely when a friendly face, Géraldine, comes to join the outcasts’ tent. Géraldine’s friendship helps break the spell placed upon Hélène, and a bit of colour starts filling Hélène’s life as she starts to see her life in a different way.

Simply put, a beautiful book. Arsenault’s use of gray tones, colours and various fonts captures the feelings that are represented within the words. The experience  and feelings of “not quite fitting in” and being unhappy with oneself are well addressed. Moreover, the book shines positive light on the one parent family dynamic of Hélène, her two brothers and their mother.

Read other reviews of Jane, the Fox and Me from the New York Times and Publishers Weekly.

Another blogger’s review of the novel at edge of seventeen.

Combating Bullying

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Do you have anti-bullying tactics that are working for your school/organization? Please share in the comments!

Review: The Boy Who Ate Stars by KOCHKA, translated by Sarah Adams

“You see only with your heart, because your eyes miss what matters.”
― Kochka, The Boy Who Ate Stars

 

Twelve year old Lucy has just moved into her new apartment in Paris with her parents. Though she doesn’t know anyone, her theme for the year is “global encounters”; she is determined to get to know her neighbours, and gets a great start getting to know the Marottes and their fashion accessory of a dog, François, until the day she meets Marie, her autistic son, Matthew, and his nanny, Maougo.Image

This short novel is largely about Lucy and her friend Theo trying to make sense of autism, and Lucy’s persistent efforts to draw the four-year-old Matthew out, all the while teaching François to get in touch with his “proper dog” instincts. Autism can be difficult to explain, but Lucy’s twelve-year-old perspective helps to make the disorder more accessible. Matthew’s mother Marie explains it well: “Life on earth is about looking at each other, in the same way that the earth moves round the sun… But autistic people are like small independent planets that have landed here by chance, and instead of looking at the other earthlings as they move around them, they spin inside themselves.” Manipulating a pre-existing definition, Lucy adds her own definition: “Autism: unusual withdrawal into an interior world resulting from such a strong contact with reality that people can become objects.”

Perhaps because it was originally written in French and then translated, there were some parts of the story that were hard to understand. However, it does help to explain much about the way that people with autism act and think. This charming and lyrically written story was a delight to read and is strongly recommended for readers with an interest in autism.

Find out more about this book from Kirkus or Publishers Weekly.

To learn more about autism, take a look at the Parentbooks’ Autism Memoirs and Personal stories book list.