Jane, the Fox & Me


Jane, the Fox & Me takes place around the time that Hèléne’s school receives sponsorship to attend a camp at Lake Kanawana. This means a new swimsuit,  the allocation of tents and the need to form a strategy to hide from ‘the groups’. Once Hèléne was one of the girls who dreamed about ‘vintage’ and crinolines. Now her name is written on bathroom walls and she’s talked about loudly by Geneviève and the others. Hèléne hides in her books, yet hears the taunts. Her latest title is ‘Jane Eyre’, yet what can Hèléne hope to learn from Jane Eyre? Thereafter, what might Hèléne feel when a ‘real, live fox‘ cracks open her tent? Could ‘the outcasts’ tent [be] transformed into a tent of miracles‘?

Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault have created an exceptional story, rather like its own ‘tent of miracles‘. We read Jane Eyre alongside Hèléne and experience her evaluation as she reads on. Furthermore, we’re complicit in Hèléne’s hopes, fears, hurts, experiences and actions. We see how she strategises and evaluates. We hurt for her.

Our experience is heightened by the emotional literacy of Isabelle Arsenault’s pictures with their symbolic colouring, clever framing, broad sweeps of active background that mimic Hèléne’s feelings.

Jane, the Fox & Me is an outstanding book, that Bookwagon recommends highly to empathetic readers and school libraries.


Jane, the Fox & Me

Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

Translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou

(Walker Studio)

Waiting for the bus on Sherbrooke today is like waiting to die‘. What comfort is there for Jane, the Fox & Me? While Hèléne was once amongst the girls who dreamed of crinolines and vintage, her name is scrawled on bathroom walls, ‘Don’t take to Hèléne, she has no friends now.‘ Hèléne burns with fury, so hides within her book ‘called Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë’. Although Hèléne has taken to reading on the bus as a way of guarding herself from Geneviève’s insults, in truth she hears every word. Yet, what of this book?
We travel between Hèléne’s life and that of Jane Eyre. Yet how can these two girls have anything in common? Hèléne considers how Jane grew up ‘clever, slender and wise, so that no-one calls [her] a liar, a thief or an ugly duckling.’  What happens when a school camp means sharing a dorm and a new swimsuit?  While ‘Jane Eyre may be an orphan, homely, battered alone and abandoned- she is not never has been and never will be a big, fat sausage‘. Hèléne decides that she will form a strategy, like Jane Eyre did. Yet will this strategy work for her at Lake Kanawana, and thereafter in the ‘outcasts’ tent?
Hèléne is recognisable; the girl searching for a way to survive the masses, while hoping that who she is may be enough. Will her literary protagonist provide inspiration? Or could there be something more out there? Fanny Britt’s brilliant story of two lives, telling Hèléne’s inner journey alongside the story of Jane Eyre, is quite outstanding. We’re enraptured further through the brilliant framing, sequencing, tone and colour use of Isabelle Arsenault. Just as in her Captain Rosalie and Just Because, these illustrations are a story in themselves. Bookwagon recommends this title proudly.

Observer winner of the New York Times’ Best Illustrated Book Award


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