Louis Undercover

Louis Undercover

Written by: Britt, Fanny
Illustrated by: Arsenault, Isabelle
ages 10 to 14 / grades 5 to 9

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A stunning graphic novel from the award-winning creators of Jane, the Fox and Me.

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.

Key Text Features
speech bubbles

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.3
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

A stunning graphic novel from the award-winning creators of Jane, the Fox and Me.

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.

Key Text Features
speech bubbles

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.3
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

Published By Groundwood Books Ltd — Oct 1, 2017
Specifications 160 pages | 8.5 in x 11.25 in
Written By

FANNY BRITT is a playwright, novelist and translator. She collaborated with Isabelle Arsenault on two previous graphic novels: Jane, the Fox and Me, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration (French) and the Joe Shuster Award for Best Writer and for Best Artist, and Louis Undercover. Her other award-winning works include the play Bienvaillance and her first novel, Les maisons (published in English as Hunting Houses). Fanny lives in Montreal, Quebec, with her husband and two sons.

Illustrated by

ISABELLE ARSENAULT is an internationally renowned children’s book illustrator. Her award-winning books include Jane, the Fox and Me and Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt, Spork and Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, Cloth Lullaby by Amy Novesky (BolognaRagazzi Award) and Colette’s Lost Pet, which marked her debut as an author. She has won the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature three times, and three of her picture books have been named as New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year. Isabelle lives in Montreal, Quebec, with her family.

Written By

FANNY BRITT is a playwright, novelist and translator. She collaborated with Isabelle Arsenault on two previous graphic novels: Jane, the Fox and Me, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration (French) and the Joe Shuster Award for Best Writer and for Best Artist, and Louis Undercover. Her other award-winning works include the play Bienvaillance and her first novel, Les maisons (published in English as Hunting Houses). Fanny lives in Montreal, Quebec, with her husband and two sons.

Illustrated by

ISABELLE ARSENAULT is an internationally renowned children’s book illustrator. Her award-winning books include Jane, the Fox and Me and Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt, Spork and Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, Cloth Lullaby by Amy Novesky (BolognaRagazzi Award) and Colette’s Lost Pet, which marked her debut as an author. She has won the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature three times, and three of her picture books have been named as New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year. Isabelle lives in Montreal, Quebec, with her family.

Audience ages 10 to 14 / grades 5 to 9
Reading Levels Lexile GN830L
Guided Reading Z
Fountas & Pinnel Text Level Z
Key Text Features speech bubbles
Common Core CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.3
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.4

Commended, School Library Journal Top 10 Graphic Novels, 2017

Commended, ALSC Notable Children's Books, 2018

Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award, 2018

Commended, Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year, 2018

Winner, The Best American Comics, 2019

“Britt writes with perception about the torment of first love and the pain felt by children caught up in a foundering marriage. … Arsenault excels at capturing characters in the grip of powerful emotions they’re trying to conceal.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Arsenault's symbolic use of color and animated illustrations breathe life into Britt's quirky, beautiful story, which emphasizes that love is the bravest act of all.” —School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“This nuanced tale of an observant, sensitive boy finding his own brand of strength is bittersweet and beautifully composed.” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“The collaborators behind Jane, the Fox & Me have crafted another poignant picture book–sized graphic novel, this time about alcoholism, family separation, and the meaning of bravery.” —Horn Book, STARRED REVIEW

“A deceptively complex book — simple enough for children, but with enough layers to reward repeated readings by adults.” —Foreword Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“An unflinching, delicate portrait of a boy and his broken family.” —Kirkus Reviews

“An engagingly thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end.” —Children's Bookwatch

“. . . a graceful exploration of the frightening fragility and tentative resilience of preteen boys.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED REVIEW