“Zalou” by Josée Bournival: developing self-esteem through fantasy

“Zalou” by Joséée Bournival: developing self-esteem through ;this to the fantastic


Comedian, animator, author of adult novels and mother of four children, Josée Bournival became an elementary school drama teacher in the fall of 2020. Her students inspired her very first fantasy children's series , Zalou, whose third volume has just been published. Through the extraordinary adventures of her characters, she addresses two important themes: self-esteem and the acceptance of difference.

After teaching drama for a while, Josée Bournival noticed that some students suffered from a profound lack of self-esteem. To give them a boost, she imagined the adventures of a young boy, Zalou, and… took her first steps into the world of fantastic literature.

“It’s new for me, the fantastic. I've never done it in adult literature. I had a big crush, for the creativity that it allows me. You can really get out of your comfort zone, sheer all the way to the back of left field with your ideas, no problem!” she said in an interview.

“It's a great way to get in and the perfect excuse to broach a subject that I found sensitive and that I didn't want to tackle head-on with the children. »

In the third volume, Zalou is armed with eternal fire and two mysterious crystals, and seeks the sword intended for him. An onslaught of wicked ice scorpicon forces him to plunge into a rift that has cut him off from the rest of the kingdom. He metamorphoses into a hybrid creature, half-man, half-shark, and explores the depths of Océalys with his friends.


In parallel with this fantastic story where hybrid creatures, magic crystals and portmanteau words are featured, Josée Bournival was inspired by the work of psycho-educator Germain Duclos to talk about self-esteem. 

The feeling of security and confidence, self-knowledge, the feeling of belonging to a group and the feeling of competence are therefore the four main elements of this series which will have four volumes.

“It was my students who inspired me for the series, when I taught drama in elementary school. I had a lot of little Zalou in my class, that is to say children who had no self-confidence, who felt like they were born for hot cakes. I had the impression that they had never been told: “Dream! Dream big! Try to fulfill those beautiful big dreams! You have the right to believe in yourself and to believe in all this!” There are children who have the impression that Zalou looks like them. That, I'm told.”

The reaction of the children, in the schools where she went to give workshops, is very good and they hang a lot on the hybrid creatures of the forest of Mandrilla, invented from scratch. “They board at 200 miles an hour, regardless of age. This is one of the aspects that people talk to me about the most,” she shares. Her crystal collection is also very popular!

Upcoming projects

The next year will be very busy for Josée Bournival. The fourth volume will be released on April 5. “I have the feeling of accomplishment. I put everything I wanted”, she notes. She has other projects simmering, including a new children's series and an adult novel that will be about her teaching experience. 

“It's funny, but everything I've done in the last 10-12 years has been about kids. I feel like I belong. I love doing school workshops and meeting the children. There are great discussions in these workshops thanks to Zalou and I'm super happy.”

  • Josée Bournival was a TV and radio host as well to be an actress in the theatre.
  • She traded television sets for writing in her mid-thirties.
  • She has written several novels for adults.
  • She is registered in the Culture directory at school.
  • There are talks in this moment for the purchase of the rights to Zalou by a French publishing house.


In the hours that follow, Mucha cuts their fox capes with his sword. He cuts thin strips of fur that Zalou assembles and braids to form a vine long enough for the upcoming mission.

It's time to take action!

Zalou reads the description of the effects of planktonys: according to Mucha's ancestor, he will be able to hold his breath three times longer thanks to the powers of this plant.

Without further ado, Zalou chews a handful. Mucha ties his waist with the leather cord.

– Good luck!

Holding his breath, the chosen jumps into the water.”