Children’s Comics

Jane the Fox and Me

By Fanny Britt and Illustrated by Isabelle ArsenaultTranslated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou518wOLF0u0L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Published by Groundwood Books

ISBN: 978-1-55498-360-5


Ages 9-12

Reading level/Grades: 4-6


Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration (French)

Finalist for the Eisner Award for Best Publication for Children

Finalist for the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award

New York Times Best Illustrated Books

New York Public Library Books for Reading and Sharing

Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year

Genre: Juvenile Graphic Fiction

Summary:  Hélène is teased by girls at school, and their horrible words are constantly  streaming through her mind. When she is at home, her mother is hovered over the sewing machine, busy doing chores, too exhausted to help Hélène. Hélène finds an escape when readingjanefox Emily Bronte’s Jane Eyre, as she identifies with the protagonist. At school she finds out her class is going on a camping trip. Hélène is not excited, as she riddled with anxieties about her body image. Once on the trip, again she feels like an outcast. When out for a walk, Hélène encounters a fox; this meeting brightens Hélène’s mood. Through reading Jane Eyre, meeting the fox, and making a new friend Hélène begins to regain confidence.

Review: This graphic novel is beautifully sketched in pencil to depict Hélène’s feelings. Watercolor is only used when Hélène is reading Jane Eyre, Pages-from-JaneTheFoxAndMe_FP-2escaping the real world. The story very descriptively details Helene’s emotions, evoking empathy within the reader. In conjunction with the detailed inner dialogue, Britt and Arsenault
use full-page spreads to capture Hélène’s sadness.
The story told in this novel, is one every pre-teen should read as it perfectly highlights the thought patterns of many bullied boys and girls.

Educational Connection: First and foremost, this is a great book for teaching the effects of harmful words and bullying, and it is also a great introduction to Jane Eyre. Even though the target audience may not be ready to read Emily Bronte, this story plants a seed and introduces the idea of classic novels. Teachers/Librarians can introduce what classic novels are as a side note when reading this book.

Read alikes:

Smile by Raina Telgemeier and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Both these books follow pre-teen protagonists. Hugo is drawn in a similar fashion to Jane, the Fox and Me, while Smile is also a coming of age story. Hugo also draws on the idea of escape through classics.

Why it appeals to children: Not only is this book very visually appealing, but it also delivers an important message. Hélène is a very relatable character, as most children have experienced the feeling of loneliness and rejection in their lives. More than ever children have enormous loads of pressure. As “digital natives”, they are exposed to social media and 0825-bks-Brodesser-master1050advertising on a regular basis. Not only are they dealing with bullies in school, but also with images constantly being flashed before their eyes. It is easy for self-esteem to get destroyed and it is important for children to know there are other escapes besides technology.  In the case of Hélène, it was a book, nature, and friendship. Even though the story is quite sad, it ends happily and with an important message. Children will be able to finish the book with a sense of hope and understanding that there is always a way to overcome their anxieties.

Apps for Children with Autism

Librarians continue to figure out the importance of incorporating computer/tablet applications within the library and library programming. It is apparent that librarians should review apps just as they review books. Similar to book selection, diversity and inclusion are important. In the world of education, apps are commonly used to aiding instruction for children with Autism. It is obvious that if the library should now incorporate the high quality apps created by developers into the collection that they must also select apps for child with various needs. There are multiple ways these apps can be included in the public library: during story time, through tablet circulation, specific app programing for families who have a child with autism and informational brochures/programs informing the community on how to evaluate appropriate apps for children with autism.(Kipper, 2013, p. 37)

The article explains how to identify apps that work well for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. It is important to remember that every child is different, and nothing is one size fits all, but there are some key components to look for when choosing and appropriate app. For example, are the pictures realistic or can you change the level of difficulty? (Kipper, 2013, p. 37) There are several appropriate applications that cater to the various needs of children on the Autism Spectrum. These include Brain Parade, Fizz Brain, Smarty Ears and Toca Boca.

This publication does not discuss appropriate screen times for children with Autism. Even though the applications can be extremely helpful, librarians and parents should continue to follow the AAP guides lines.

Kipper, Barbara. (2013). Apps and autism: Tools to serve children with special needs. American Libraries, 44(6), 36.

Importance of Diverse Collections

An ideal, diverse collection supports our young patrons’ search for self-awareness. When building such a collection, the librarian must realize a child’s understanding is based surrounding experiences (Naidoo, 2014, pg. 2). Therefore, diversity is based on exploring the familiar or understanding the unfamiliar. Every book sends a message, whether directly or inadvertently. Before selecting any books, every librarian must understand that culture goes beyond ethnicity, and includes gender, religion, sexuality, ability, language, class, etc. (McNair, 2016, para. 5) In this post we focus on three ways that literature can help children recognize how they affect others and gain perspective of themselves and the world: universal theme, inclusion or representation, and exposure.

Books that include universal themes show children that there are common human experiences or things that we all feel. For example, in A Birthday Basket for Tia by Pat Mora, Cecilia is attending her Tia’s surprise birthday party and trying to decide what she should give to her. The excitement of having a birthday and giving thoughtful birthday presents are ubiquitous. Cecilia’s experience and her Tia’s party may look and sound different to some children, but the theme is familiar. Another example is the Moses Goes series. Moses is deaf, but he goes to school, plays an instrument he enjoys (drums), and can speak to his friends by signing. These books “positively represent” cultural differences (Thomas, 2016), while showing memorable occasions that most children have the opportunity to experience .

Diverse collections allow all children to feel included and represented. Jacob’s New Dress by Ian and Sarah Hoffman, provokes positive insights that push the societal boundaries of gender. These books allow children to recognize and question the boundaries that may be set up in their own households. Therefore, inviting them to recognize that there are differences in families and people around them. Creating a collection that encompasses all, fosters self-identity and elicits “positive insights about others” (McNair, 2016, para. 22) and will lead to self-awareness.

Diverse books offer children the opportunity to recognize that there is a world outside of their immediate community. The book Same, Same, but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw follows two boy penpals; one living in America and the other in India. They talk about their ordinary lives, and reveal that their day-to-day lives have similarities and differences. As librarians, our focus should not be on diversity for diversity’s sake. We should choose children’s literature with the intention of cultural competence, “awareness of one’s own culture and the contribution of other cultures” (Naidoo, 2014, p.4).

Including books that explore all facets of humanity allow all youth to be supported through their personal journeys.


McNair, J. (2016). #Weneedmirrorsandwindows: Diverse classroom libraries for K–6 students. Reading Teacher, 70(3), 375-381.

Naidoo, J. C. (2014). The importance of diversity in library programs and material collections for children. Association for Library Service to Children, American Library Association.

Thomas, E. E. (2016). Stories still matter: Rethinking the role of diverse children’s literature today. Language Arts, 94(2), 112-119. Retrieved from

Picture Books:

Hoffman, Sarah & Ian and Case, Chris (Illlustrator). Jacob’s New Dress. Albert Whitman & Company. 2014. 32 pages. $16.99. 978-0-80-756373-1.

Kostecki-Shaw, Jenny Sue. Same, Same but Different. Macmillan Publishers. 2011. 40 pages. $17.99. 978-0-80-508946-2.

Mora, Pat and Lang, Cecily (Illustrator). A Birthday Basket for Tia. Aladdin Books, 1997. 32 pages. $16.00. 978-0-02-767400-2.

Moses Goes… series by Isaac Millman

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Banned Book Review

Through simple language and the use of colorful images, Todd Parr’s The Family Book explores the different types of family combinations that exist in our world, including multi-racial, single parent, and same-sex parent families. The book challenges the idea of a traditional nuclear family, and though it has been banned becausefamily book of this, it is important for children to recognize that their peers may not have the same type of family. Regardless of family dynamics, all families endure the same emotions, including happiness, grief, loss, and celebration.  Beyond the structure of the family, Parr also shows how families may have different habits, including that “some families like to be clean; some families like to be messy,” or eating different food. Children often observe their friends families interacting differently than their own. It would be a great read for children when they meet new friends and visit different households for the first time. Parents can use this book to talk about diversity, as well as, use it to explain how families can change over time. The overall message is your family is family whether or not it is traditionally nuclear.

Parr, Todd. The Family Book. Little. Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010. 32 pages. $8.00.ISBN: 0316155632. 3-5 years old

Non-Fiction Award Comparisons

While exploring non-fiction, one may come across books branded with Sibert Award medals or NCSS medals. Sibert medals are given to distinguished informational books, while the NCSS award is more specific and meant for social studies books regarding the proper representations of minority groups and race relations.

This week I read the Sibert Winner Balloons Over Broadway and the NCSS Winner Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down. The stories are very different in content. Balloons Over Broadway is about the puppeteer Tony Sarg and his creations for the Macy’s Day Parade and window decorations. While Sit In is an account about the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in. They both follow the historical journey’s but differ in emotional response.  Sit In evoked an emotional response of sadness and reflection on how we still struggle for integration in many ways. Balloons Over Broadway left me happy and did not spur much reflection, but that does not mean this book should be dismissed. Both books have whimsical and colorful illustrations that add to the richness of the stories. Overall, I enjoyed both stories and believe they both are accurate representations of the journeys they recount.

Sweet, Melissa. Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. 20 pages. 2011.  ISBN 9780547199450. $17.99.


2012 Robert F. Sibert Medal

Davis Pinkney, Andrea. Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down. 40 pages. 2010. ISBN 9780316070164 $16.99.


2011 Carter G. Woodson Book Award

Read Aloud Reflection

First of all I would like to thank the class for their thoughtful feedback and encouragement. I have done many read aloud but never bilingual. I am not a Spanish speaker, so I was very nervous. I realized that I may have been caught up in the fact that I do not speak Spanish and neglected to prepare other aspects of the story adequately.

Upon reflection and feedback I realized that even though I thought the story was appropriate for children ages 3-5, my delivery of the story may not have made it obvious.  When read more fluently, the story does come together as a more cohesive narrative. When preparing for the read aloud I practiced reading page by page instead of writing the story out and practicing it as a whole to get a feel for how the story is to be told. If I would have written it out, I would have noticed the more natural breaks and phrasing in the book.  I did make pauses, but they were not necessarily in the place where I should have.  In preparation for the re-do, I will consult more resources on bilingual read alouds.

Furthermore, if given the chance to read it again I would also find a way to explain who Frida was. This may be a little difficult for the age group but I am going to think more about it. Many classmates also commented that I was quiet, I am glad this was pointed out because I always feel like I speak to loud. My nerves may have gotten the best of me; I will make sure to raise my voice next time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, and even though it had some hiccoughs. I really enjoy the story and believe that when read accurately it could be an excellent read aloud!