Louis Un­der­cover

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Comics & Graphic Novels -

Fanny Britt, Is­abelle Arse­nault (Il­lus­tra­tor) Chris­telle Morelli (Trans­la­tor) Su­san Ou­riou (Trans­la­tor) Ground­wood Books (OC­TO­BER) Hard­cover $19.95 (160pp) 978-1-55498-859-4

Louis Un­der­cover tells the touch­ing story of a boy’s ef­forts to sum­mon the courage to say hello to a girl, and to sur­vive his own crum­bling fam­ily life.

Louis is a boy hope­lessly in­fat­u­ated with Bil­lie, a class­mate; how­ever, he lacks the con­fi­dence to talk to her. While Louis and his friend Boris pon­der ways to make first con­tact with Bil­lie, the home lives of Louis and his younger brother, Truf­fle, are af­fected by their al­co­holic fa­ther.

Louis’s de­sire for a re­la­tion­ship with Bil­lie rep­re­sents a path out of tur­moil and a sense of hope for the fu­ture. It car­ries him through the ups and downs of his fa­ther’s at­tempts to con­quer al­co­hol de­pen­dency and win back his fam­ily. But Bil­lie is more than just a ro­man­tic in­ter­est. Though Louis has ide­al­ized her, she is strong and brave, qual­i­ties he sees him­self as lack­ing.

Fanny Britt’s writ­ing is full of apt metaphors, such as the rac­coon Louis finds and nurses back to health—a par­al­lel for a dam­aged boy who needs to heal be­fore he can move on. Is­abelle Arse­nault’s art­work com­bines this nat­u­ral sto­ry­telling style with oc­ca­sional bits of ex­pres­sion­ism, such as a scrib­bled-out page that con­ceals most of the art un­der­neath, but re­veals much about Louis’s feel­ings.

Louis Un­der­cover is a de­cep­tively com­plex book—sim­ple enough for chil­dren, but with enough lay­ers to re­ward re­peated read­ings by adults.

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