CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 10. . . .November 8, 2013
Francis, the Little Fox follows the adventures of a young fox as he learns to use the local laundromat with his father. Although he misses having a house with its own washing machine, he comes to appreciate the varied experiences he can have in the laundromat. For instance, he learns how to properly behave (no trumpets! No tomato slingshots!), especially how to sit quietly while his father reads the paper. The only concern he has is the owner’s daughter, Lily, who tends to play tricks and cause trouble. And a cat named Mouse always means trouble! No matter what or whom he encounters, Francis is sure to have an amusing adventure at the laundromat.
This is an English translation of a French story, and, according to the publisher, it is based on a French-language app created by Boisjoly. The reader would not be aware of either of these two facts while reading the text since the translation appears seamless. To think of this story as originating from an app is proof that we have entered a new, 21st-century age of storytelling! The writing, sparse at times, is elegant and descriptive at once – one can truly picture the soapy flood on the floor of the laundromat even without the aid of the illustration. The story is clever and unique, with surprise, intriguing twists – and a great laugh at the end.
While the text borders on genius, the illustrations are also clever and serve to propel the story forward. The viewer may be reminded of the 2009 movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is not intended as a criticism, but rather a pleasant, familiar feeling, for this book comes into its own. Mirroring the text, the illustrations almost sit in blocks on the page, with great detail that requires a closer examination – words in speech bubbles, instructions on machines, and clever features like the small writing and figures on missing posters on trees all add intrigue and humour to the text. Autumn-like colouring, including brick reds, rusty oranges, and muted yellows and greens present a sepia-like, wistful tone to the illustrations. Readers can almost feel themselves transported to an actual laundromat, trying to scrub away those muted tones for something brighter and cleaner. But no need here – the illustrations (and the text) are perfect as is. A book for all children’s collections.
Roxy Garstad is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.
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