Thursday, February 06, 2014

Reader's Diary #1092- Fanny Britt, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Susan Ouriou and Christine Morelli: Jane, The Fox and Me

Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, came recommended to me last year by Perogyo, after I'd listed my top 13 picks for the best Canadian graphic novels of all time. It was a damned fined recommendation, and I can honestly say, if if were to do the list over, I think I'd make room for it.

I'll start with first with the artwork. It's got a very retro aesthetic, very consistently and uniquely stylized. You know I've loved the artwork of Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns and those guys, but I've been finding that look way too common in graphic novels lately. Arsenault offers something rare. And most importantly, it fits the lonely tone of the story.

On that note, it's a downer of a book, especially for the young audience it's aimed after, but there's at least an uplifting ending and the problems are real, so a young girl going through similar problems would presumably relate and take comfort in it. One notably sad detail was the constant mention of Hélène's (the "me" in the title) weight. Other middle-schoolers tease her about it, she's really self-conscious about it, and yet Arsenault has her depicted as relatively the same size as everyone else. At first I thought it was a mistake on the artist's part, but then when I realized that Hélène probably has a self-image disorder, either capitalized on or partially caused by her peers, my heart nearly broke for the poor girl.

Any book that makes me feel for a character this much is top-notch.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

A graphic novel that has been translated into English makes for a whole lot of elements to review. But you have done an admirable job, despite it taking me a while to get through the blog title.

Nikki in Niagara said...

LOL to Barbara :-) I thought the book was called "Fanny Britt" haha. Anyway ... Great review John! I'm loving French comics at the moment and this sounds great, will add to the list.

John Mutford said...

Barb: Yes, it felt like I was reading out an Oscar nomination.

Nicola: Come to think of it, I've liked a few graphic novels out of Quebec. Not so much France, though.

John Mutford said...

Nicola: Scratch that. Just remembered a couple from France that I liked: Epileptic and Persepolis (Satrapi lives in Paris)