one of our exceedingly rare book recommendations
When Jane, the Fox & Me, written by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, showed up on the NY Times Best Illustrated list this year, we knew that we had to seek out a copy of this book that we’d been hearing so many good things about. Luckily, on our trip to NCTE a few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to meet the people at Groundwood, who shared a copy with us!
The first thing we have to say about this book is, if you are a graphic novel reader and haven’t read this book yet, you’re missing out, and you should drop everything (though of course if you are reading this on your computer, be careful while dropping your computer) and go find a copy. It is very good. (And I say this not being a particular fan of Jane Eyre, though I do like foxes.)
Here is the cover.
The cover alludes to the interior style, which is done in two (or two and a half) approaches — the parts with Helene, the main character, are done in a pencil-y, scribbly style, while the story of Jane Eyre, and the story of the fox, are done in color. As you may guess, there is a transformative moment that comes late in the book which is conveyed mostly through the color palette.
The book in short: there is a girl named Helene who doesn’t have any friends but wishes that she had some. Meanwhile, she enjoys Jane Eyre. Things take a change (for the better) thanks to an initially-disastrous school-mandated overnight camping trip.
Look, tiny!Jane Eyre! So adorable.
This book is definitely a graphic novel, but one of the things that I love about it is the breaks in the story where it’s told with full page illustrations or pieces like the page below, where all the kids in the class are drawn without panel borders or a background. It’s like the essence of what kids are — kind of a jumble.
And here is the fox! (This is not the transformative moment, which comes later.) Groundwood did such a nice job with this book — do you see how the endpapers match the color of the fox? These things don’t happen by accident!
If you’re looking for a beautiful holiday gift — or a wonderful story — definitely go check out Jane, the Fox & Me.
You won’t regret it.