cover image Harvey


Hervé Bouchard, trans. from the French by Helen Mixter, illus. by Janice Nadeau, Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $19.95 (168p) ISBN 978-1-55498-075-8

In this challenging graphic novel, Bouchard's first book for children (which won Governor General's awards for both text and illustration in 2009), narrator Harvey promises to tell readers about "the time when I became invisible." An early spring day is forever changed when Harvey and his brother arrive home, just as their father is being wheeled into an ambulance, dead of a heart attack. In somber shades of mauve, teal, and charcoal, Nadeau's delicate, smudgy spot art and full-bleed scenes create a stark world for Harvey's plainspoken observations. Heartbreaking imagery abounds: after gawkers disperse, the silhouette of the family's home suggests a gemstone, white-hot under pressure; Harvey's mother curls up alone. Because of his small stature, Harvey can't see into his father's coffin, and he mulls conflicting images of his father based on mourners' comments ("[M]aybe the way to see for real is to listen to all of them"). When an uncle lifts him up for a better view, Harvey disappears—like many might wish they could in such a situation. Reality becomes concrete, he becomes insubstantial, and the book ends (though Harvey may reappear in a sequel). Ages 10–up. (Oct.)