By Hervé Bouchard
Published by Groundwood Books
Winner of two Governor General’s Literary Awards in French language children's literature (one for text and one for art); Bouchard’s poignant and original graphic novel Harvey has been translated into English. When Harvey and his younger brother find out that their father has died of a sudden heart attack, Harvey copes by receding deeper into his fantasy life. He finds he relates best to Scott Carey, the hero of his favorite movie, The Incredible Shrinking Man. This connection to his fictional hero influences Harvey’s response to his father’s funeral – when his uncle lifts him up so that he can see his father laid out in the coffin, Harvey finds himself slowly disappearing.
Nadeau’s melancholy and sparse illustrations suit the minimal text perfectly. A topic such as the death of a loved one as experienced by a child is not the sort for heavy-handed illustrations, and Nadeau’s slightly smudged characters provide a good balance with the subject matter. Harvey, as a graphic novel, is both art and text, and these go hand in hand to tell the emotional yet convincing story of Harvey’s loss.
Although it is up for discussion, as is the case with many graphic novels, I feel Harvey is a good fit for more mature readers between grades four to eight. Since this book centers on the subject of death in a pragmatic yet emotionally accurate manner, it is a text of great value for any library, whether elementary or high school.
Harvey is also available for bilingual libraries and classrooms, originally published in French by Montreal publisher Les Éditions de la Pastèque. Harvey was also nominated for the CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens (2011: Selected) and the IODE Violet Downey Book Award (2010: Finalist).
Bouchard and Nadeau are currently working on a sequel to Harvey.
Check out Janice Nadeau’s website at: http://www.janicenadeau.com/