Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 18
- Grade: 4
- Reading age: 9 to 10
IBBY Honour List 2020
Twelve-year-old Elfina lives with her grandmother in Paraguay. When a distant relative offers to have Elfina come live with her in the city so she can attend school, Elfina's grandmother sends her off for a better life. But life with her relatives isn't what Elfina thought it would be, and soon Elfina finds herself far away from home, living in Canada, and kept as a domestic servant by the family. School and an education are now a distant dream. When Elfina's uncle makes inappropriate advances at her, she knows she must somehow find the courage to escape and return home. But who will help her?
About the authors
ANDRÉ JACOB'S career has been oriented towards social practices in the face of racism and discrimination. He is a former professor at the School of Social Work at Université du Québec à Montréal and has been a guest lecturer on immigration, racism, and international development around the world. He is the recipient of the Rights and Freedoms Award from the Québec Human Rights Commission and a Heritage Excellence Award from Canadian Heritage. He is also a professional visual artist and vice-chairman of the Artists for Peace. André lives in Mascouche, Québec.
CHRISTINE DELEZENNE is a graphic designer and an illustrator. She integrates various elements in her art — drawings, textures, collages and photos. She received the prestigious Elizabeth Cleaver Award, offered by IBBY Canada for the illustrations in La Clé. She is also the illustrator of The Little Yellow Bottle. Christine lives presently in the region of Zurich in Switzerland.
Susan Ouriou is an award-winning literary translator who has translated the fiction of Quebec, Latin-American, French and Spanish authors. She won Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation in 2009 for Pieces of Me by Charlotte Gingras, after first being shortlisted for The Road to Chlifa by Michèle Marineau and then for Necessary Betrayals by Guillaume Vigneault. The Road to Chlifa was also awarded an honour list placing by IBBY (International Board of Books for Youth) as were Naomi and Mrs. Lumbago by Gilles Tibo, This Side of the Sky by Marie-Francine Hébert and Pieces of Me. Necessary Betrayals was also voted one of the 100 best books of 2002 by the Globe and Mail. Another translation, The Thirteenth Summer by José Luis Olaizola, was runner-up for the John Glassco Translation Prize. She has worked as the director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre and as faculty for the Banff Centre's Aboriginal Emerging Writers residency. She is the editor of the 2010 anthology Beyond Words – Translating the World.
Knowledge and awareness are critical components when trying to solve any problem, and this small but powerful novel arms its readers with information which they may use to confront the issues of forced domestic labour.
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
The Courage of Elfina packs a big punch for a small book. I would recommend it for school and public libraries.
"The words and pictures interlace seamlessly: a variety of large and small panels highlight both the spatial limitations of Elfina's world and her fantasies of escape … Christine Delezenne's two—colour illustrations are filled with movement and information, as well as glimpses of Elfina's humour and cheeky resistance."
Quill and Quire
"The simplicity of the text and the combined illustrations create a powerful, accessible narrative in explaining child labor and human trafficking to kids and teens."
Global Literature in Libraries Initiative
This slight volume packs considerable punch, laying bare the peril tens of millions of marginalized children face every day. A worthy acquisition for school and public libraries.
School Library Journal
"Brings the plight of modern slavery to teens in a character they'll surely find relatable."
"An eye-opening book that makes this difficult topic and social issue understandable to middle graders and teens."
Global Literature in Libraries Initiative
The Courage of Elfina is an engaging tale to teach young readers about forced child labour right here in Canada.
Montreal Review of Books
A deceptively short read that casts needed light on a dark and dehumanizing practice.