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Elfina: english version

The courage of Elfina

2019 - Formac Lorimier Books

The Courage of Elfina

By André Jacob, Illustrated by Christine Delezenne,

Translated by Susan Ouriou

Twelve-year-old Elfina lives with her grandmother in Paraguay. When a distant relative offers to have Elfina come live with her in the city so she can attend school, Elfina's grandmother sends her off for a better life. But life with her relatives isn't what Elfina thought it would be, and soon Elfina finds herself far away from home, living in Canada, and kept as a domestic servant by the family. School and an education are now a distant dream. When Elfina's uncle makes inappropriate advances at her, she knows she must somehow find the courage to escape and return home. But who will help her?


The Courage of Elfina follows a young protagonist from Latin America, this time from Paraguay. Her mother has died, and her father works in Brazil, so Elfina lives with her brother and grandmother. When her aunt in the capital city invites Elfina to come and live with her – promising access to good schooling – the teenager reluctantly goes. Upon arrival, she is not sent to school at all, but is forced into domestic servitude. Worse, the family then moves to Montreal, where Elfina is even more isolated and her uncle makes improper advances. Eventually, Elfina finds the courage to take refuge in a church, where a Spanish-speaking priest reports her forced labour to police and ensures she returns home.

Quebec author André Jacob’s text keeps the story moving and captures Elfina’s resilient nature. The words and pictures interlace seamlessly: a variety of large and small panels highlight both the spatial limitations of Elfina’s world and her fantasies of escape (as when an imaginary stallion emerges from the washing machine). Christine Delezenne’s two-colour illustrations are filled with movement and information, as well as glimpses of Elfina’s humour and cheeky resistance. Section breaks indicating the seasons chart Elfina’s emotional journey visually, as does the recurring map of the park that she must walk through to buy groceries, thus gaining rare moments of freedom. This story does end happily, with Elfina back home and in school.

Publisher: Lorimier -

Reviewer: Joanne Findon


First published as

Les quatre saisons d'Elfina

ISATIS éditions Montréal 2017


Publication Details: Binding: Hardback, 64 pages Publication Date: 5th March 2019 ISBN: 9781459414198 Format: 8.5in x 9.5in 100+ 2-colour illustrations BISAC Code: YAF058100, YAF058170, YAF058240 Imprint: Lorimer Interest age: From 12 To 18 Fry Reading Level [grade]: 4.0 Lexile Reading Level: 760L

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