Review Blog

Nov 19 2015

This & that by Mem Fox

cover image

This & that by Mem Fox
Ill. by Judy Hoacek. Scholastic, 2015. ISBN 9781743622537
(Age: 3-6) Highly recommended, Bedtime, Stories, Readaloud, Family. The elegant simplicity of Fox's words in this book, parallel the line and colour block illustrations by Horacek. Each is deceptively simple, foreshadowing the effort gone into the book to pare it back to the bare minimum.
The words 'I'll tell you a story of this, and I'll tell you a story of that' introduce the book, and are repeated after every rhyming couplet which gives a hint of a fanciful tale. In putting the baby mouse to sleep, the parent tells stories. The first is of a cavernous tale and a chimp with a magic hat, then two boys running down a road with a cat, then on to a pair of crazy giraffes and so on. Each gives the illustrator the opportunity to embellish and extend the lines, as each turn of the page reveals something from the page before peering over the next illustration. And watch out for the mice running through the whole story, beginning on the cover.
And the illustrations allude to many other stories; stories about animals, giraffes and elephants, mice and cats, kings and queens, carriages and castle, reminding children of stories they have heard at night before sleep. Finally the story ends and the baby mouse is bid goodnight with a hug.
Fox's story is imbued with family, with storytelling at its heart as the children go to bed, of love and hugs, of familiarity. Children will love recognising images from other stories they have heard, and join in with the refrain, laughing at the antics of the mice as they make their way through a range of stories. Hoacek and Fox worked on Where is the green sheep (2010) and I heard Mem Fox read this aloud to a group of children keeping the audience enraptured, and this will too.
Fran Knight

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