Written by André Jacob, Translated by Susan Ouriou
Illustrated by Christine Delezenne
Publisher: James Lorimer & Company LTD., Toronto
Twelve-year-old Elfina lives in Paraguay with her grandmother, brother, and her dad, who she sees every couple of months as he is a migrant farm worker in Brazil.
Elfina is aware that her family is very poor, but she loves them and enjoys living in her small village in Paraguay.
Elfina’s grandma decides that it would be best for Elfina to go live with her aunt Evoala and have a better life and education than she could experience living in the village. As her grandma states, “I don’t want you to become a poor, ignorant woman like me.”
Elfina leaves for the capital of Paraguay heartbroken as she can’t believe her grandma is sending her away to live with her aunt and family.
Once in Asuncion, Elfina realizes that her aunt Evoala and uncle have lied to her grandma about them providing her with a better life and education.
When aunt Evoala informs Elfina that they will be leaving Paraguay, Elfina is devastated by the news as she feels this is pulling her from her roots and family; she feels the heartbreak of losing everything she knows and loves.
While in Canada, Elfina comes to the realization that she is being used as the housekeeper of the family and they are depriving her of an education. Elfina is experiencing other forms of abuse.
The Courage of Elfina brings to light the countless children that are deprived of an education and robbed of their childhood by being forced to work instead of attend school. This graphic novel, while simple in text, is an eye-opening book that makes this difficult topic and social issue understandable to middle graders and teens.
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.
André Jacob, is a retired Canadian professor of social work, a writer and a peace and human rights activist, committed to fighting racism and discrimination against migrants and to establishing just relations with Indigenous peoples.
Susan Ouriou is a Calgary-based novelist, interpreter, and translator of fiction. One of her greatest pleasures is sharing with English readers, young and old, the stories she loves in French and Spanish. A runner-up for the John Glassco Translation Prize for The Thirteenth Summer and two-time finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Translation for The Road to Chlifa and Necessary Betrayals, she has some twenty translations to her credit as well as her own novel Damselfish. Currently, Ouriou is busy writing her second novel.
Christine Delezenne Is an award-winning graphic designer and an illustrator. She is also the illustrator of The Little Yellow Bottle. Christine lives in Switzerland.
Elisa A. Garcia is a Supervising Librarian of Teen Services at the New York Public Library. She is motivated to foster a love of reading in reluctant teen readers and therefore strives to introduce them to a diverse world and experiences through books. Mentoring new librarians, Elisa has savored the opportunity to broaden her scope in promoting diversity in librarianship by building on her love to help our communities and instilling in others the passion she has for libraries and readers as a whole.