Cover image for Louis undercover / Fanny Britt ; Isabelle Arsenault ; translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou.
Louis undercover / Fanny Britt ; Isabelle Arsenault ; translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou.
Publication Information:
Berkeley : Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2017.

Physical Description:
153 pages : colour illustrations ; 30 cm
General Note:
Translation of: Louis parmi les spectres.
During the summer holiday Louis and his younger brother spend two weeks with their dad, who appears to have stopped drinking, but a close call with a bee sting brings their mother and the quartet spend a few days together before everything starts back upagain.


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BRI Graphic Novel Teen Graphic Novels

On Order



In this powerful new graphic novel from Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, we meet Louis, a young boy who shuttles between his alcoholic dad and his worried mom, and who, with the help of his best friend, tries to summon up the courage to speak to his true love, Billie.

Louis's dad cries -- Louis knows this because he spies on him. His dad misses the happy times when their family was together, just as Louis does. But as it is, he and his little brother, Truffle, have to travel back and forth between their dad's country house and their mom's city apartment, where she tries to hide her own tears.

Thankfully, Louis has Truffle for company. Truffle loves James Brown lyrics, and when he isn't singing, he's asking endless questions. Louis also has his friend Boris, with whom he spots ghost cop cars and spies on the "silent queen," the love of his life, Billie.

When Louis and Truffle go to their dad's for two weeks during the summer, their father seems to have stopped drinking. And when Truffle has a close call from a bee sting, their mother turns up and the reunited foursome spend several wonderful days in New York -- until they reach the end of the road, again.

A beautifully illustrated, true-to-life portrayal of just how complex family relationships can be, seen through the eyes of a wise, sensitive boy who manages to find his own way forward.

Author Notes

FANNY BRITT is a writer, playwright, and translator. She has written a dozen plays and translated more than fifteen. She is the winner of the 2013 Governor General's Literary Award in Drama for her play Bienveillance. Jane, the Fox and Me, her first graphic novel, was nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award in Children's Literature -- Text, won a Libris Award, a Joe Shuster award, and was on the New York Times Best Illustrated Books list.

Isabelle Arsenault is an internationally renowned children's book illustrator whose work has won many awards. Her books include Alpha, Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, Cloth Lullaby by Amy Novesky, Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean E. Pendziwol and Migrant by Maxine Trottier.

Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault first collaborated on the graphic novel Jane, the Fox and Me, winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Illustration (French) and the Joe Shuster Awards for Best Writer and Best Artist. It was also named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this quiet, probing graphic novel from the duo behind Jane, the Fox and Me, an adolescent boy named Louis describes the months after his parents separate. His father, still living in the family's old house and drinking every day, cries for hours; "I know because I spy on him." His mother has moved to a city apartment, and Louis shuttles back and forth with his younger brother, Truffle, who's too small to understand the situation fully-he sees the world through his love for James Brown and the Everly Brothers. As painful as the ruin of his father's life is, Louis has another problem he feels even more keenly. He's in love with Billie-a brave, bookish girl from school-but can't bring himself to speak to her. Britt writes with perception about the torment of first love and the pain felt by children caught up in a foundering marriage. Working in moody ink and pencil, Arsenault excels at capturing characters in the grip of powerful emotions they're trying to conceal, and also at conveying a sense of place-both city and country are evocatively drawn. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

The collaborators behind Jane, the Fox Me (rev. 1/14) have crafted another poignant picture booksized graphic novel, this time about alcoholism, family separation, and the meaning of bravery. Louis, his little brother Truffle, and their parents used to live together in the countrybut not anymore. The boys currently reside in a Montreal highrise overlooking the highway with their always-worried mom, occasionally visiting their untreated-alcoholic dad. Louis believes his familys pretty unlucky in love, so its not surprising he doesnt act on his feelings for Billie, a girl at school. Over seven sections, Louis poetically describes emotions he cant verbally articulate (love is like a rock shattering your heart, as painful as it is life-giving), and his insightful observations about realistic familial struggles are heartrending (They didnt stop [loving each other]. Thats the problem). Arsenaults dramatic pencil and ink illustrations with splashes of yellow and greenish-blue for emphasis superbly depict Louiss somber world. Powerfully moving wordless panels accentuate emotions to great effect. Happier plot points include kindhearted Louiss interactions with his friend Boris and naive Truffle, and the brothers caring for a wounded raccoon. A brief reconciliation leads to a family trip to NYC, but ultimately the vacation cant mask the severity of Dads problem. Britts ending is appropriately bittersweet as Dad heads off to rehab and Louis finally musters the courage to speak to Billie, having realized love is something worth being brave for. cynthia k. ritter (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.