Review: Jane, The Fox, And Me

I talked yesterday about wanting to read more. I've been reading a lot this semester in a literature class and I was so afraid of what would happen when this semester ended, how would I be able to keep up the motivation to read? Someone mentioned that I should start doing a monthly or bi-monthly book review. I loved that idea!

Today, I'll be reviewing Jane, The Fox, And Me by Fanny Britt and Isabell Arsenault. This book was originally written in French, and has been translated to English. I've seen a lot of poorly translated books. This is not one. It is a flawless translation.

The book is written in a comic book kind of format, but it isn't your typical comic book. The text is written as if the main character, a young girl named Helene, was writing it in her own hand. The words dance through the pictures. The pictures almost tell more of a story than the text does! But it's hard to say that. Both are so beautiful. Neither is one without the other.

The pictures throughout the book are done in this monochromatic kind of style. Helene is a girl living in Canada who was outcast from her friends without a warning. She became severely bullied. Her inner monologue describes the feeling of having no friends, of feeling completely alone. Of believing that she doesn't deserve the friends. Her mother works hard to provide for Helene and her two brothers who always dress like ninjas. (The ninjas were cute!) The mother is too exhausted to be of comfort to Helene, but Helene doesn't let on that she struggles.

I thought the pictures were oh so stunning and oh so heart breaking. They were incredibly artistic, with some pages displaying no words, just this girl standing in wolds she imagined, completely alone. I had an interesting conversation with classmates over the mental state of this girl. The bullying seems to have caused severe depression in this girl. She doesn't have the energy or will to pull herself out of this state, which was started by her friends, but which she believes she deserves now.

Helene has a fascination with reading. When she reads, the pictures have color. It is her escape from the world, a place that has meaning and happiness to her. She loves Jane Eyre. She says it's the best book she's ever read. She identifies with Jane because Jane was a plane child who grew up to be pretty plain, owning only a few dresses... but she was loved by this girl. And she loved the master of the house. Helene thought it was outstanding that Jane could be loved. She thought it was ridiculously fantastical. But she loved the story. She wondered if such a thing could ever happen to her.

Helene has issues with self esteem. "In the Monaco suit, I'm a ballerina sausage." You'll read on the back of the book...
"I'm getting bigger."
"Just a bit."
"Yes. I'm a sausage. A football. A piglet. A bottle of orangina. A fork cushion. I drive off both boys... and foxes."
"Wherever did you pick up such nonsense?"
A classmate called to Helene one day telling her she poked her in the butt with a fork, and Helene didn't even notice because she was so fat. Helene felt so ashamed at the fact that she never knew if that girl was telling the truth or not. It brought tears to my eyes. A young girl fed these lies about herself so much she started to believe them. But later in the text she mentions that the less she thinks it, the less true it is.

On a camping trip, Helene met this fox. The fox came close. So close Helene almost touched it. She loved the fox. A classmate ran over and screamed that Helene must be stupid for getting so close to a fox, because the only fox that would get so close to her must be rabid. Helene writes, with marks that are made to look like tears on the pages... "I didn't know that any fox who dares approach me-- Helene who weighs 369, Helene who has no friends, Helene a fork in her butt, Helene wearing a crinoline when it's last summer's fad, Helene who gets on everyone's nerves, even Suzanne Lipsky's-- has got to be rabid, sick, and dangerous. I didn't know." She spirals into deeper depression at this, isolating herself even more, truly believing that nothing would love her, no one would be her friend...

Until one day. I won't spoil the story completely. But she makes such a friend. And as she does...

Her world starts to have color in it.

The book is a quick read. It took me 17 minutes to read, and I was thoroughly analyzing each picture and word. It is a book I think everyone should read. It made me analyze myself. I think all children should read it. It's a book I plan to buy, plan to put in my classroom so that children will realize the impact their words have, for good and bad. It's a book I'll put on the bookshelf of my daughters some day.

It made me feel so sad. The world goes on and on about how it's bad to bully, but when it comes down to it, the bullying starts from thoughts that turn to words that turn to gossip that turn to bullying. The judgments we make about others have the power to deeply change others, whether we realize it or not. The terrible thing is that we generally think our judgments are true, that we have a right to assume the worse about others and talk about them for our entertainment, thinking that the one in question will never hear about it. And maybe they wont. But maybe they will. Even worse, maybe you'll turn into the one telling them.

It made me think about my thoughts of others, and the way I talk about others. I'd just be so upset for my words to send someone into isolation like this. I'll be more careful about the way I talk always, knowing the deep impact my words can have.

I can't give this book a high enough rating. It's five stars multiplied by infinity. Go read it NOW.

1 comment:

~*Night Owl*~ said...

Love the pics of this book! And how half the color is more black and white than color.