The Courage of Elfina

by André Jacob

illustrated by Christine Delezenne

translated by Susan Ouriou

Realistically presented and powerfully illustrated, this teen graphic novel reveals the untold story of child exploitation and one girl's courage to escape.

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
André Jacob

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 Quebec 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 of more than 40 works. She has been shortlisted or awarded the Governor General's Award for Literary Translation, the John Glassco Translation Prize, and France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her work as a translator, interpreter and writer. Several of her translations for children have been on IBBY's annual Honour Lists. In addition, Susan helped found the Banff International Literary Translation Centre (BILTC) and was the founding editor of the bi-annual translation review TransLit. She lives in Calgary, Alberta.


"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."
Joanne Findon, Quill and Quire
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.
Ann Ketcheson, retired teacher, CM: Canadian Review of Materials
A deceptively short read that casts needed light on a dark and dehumanizing practice.

Subjects (BISAC)


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