Good question by Sue Whiting
Illus. by Annie White. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760650841.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Wily Fox is striving to appease his hunger but keeps getting into the wrong fairy tale, causing some disquiet amongst the other characters.
Readers will eagerly follow his exploits as he tries to find food, causing ripples of laughter as they recognise the story he has invaded. We see him first in a forest hiding from a giant with a huge cudgel, searching for Fox to add to his pot of stew. Fox is adamant that he was doing nothing wrong trying to take the giant's goose, after all that is what foxes do. And we find over the page that the rascally Jack had thrown the goose at the fox while he was climbing the beanstalk. The next question to ask is why he was on that beanstalk. We find out that Fox was hiding from Wolf, the same one whose Pig Fox tried to steal when Wolf puffed Pig's house down. And Fox only tried to catch the Pig because he was hungry after being chased by the Bears from their home when he tried to eat their porridge.
And on it goes, each page asking the question about what Fox is doing in this particular story, and winding its way through many beloved fairy stories until at last, we see the initial story that began all the mayhem.
A great deal of fun will be had reading this story. Children will laugh out loud recognising favourite stories and characters and seeing the predicament Fox is in while wandering through each tale.
It is great fun, especially taking note of the subtitle, A tale told backwards, and is a wonderful story beautifully told, with illustrations that match the chaos of the story, encouraging a veiled sympathy for Fox as he does what foxes do. The use of different fonts and font sizes adds interest and delight as the reader turns the pages, noting the movement within the lines of text and the way they interact with the illustrations. And of course, there is a good question on every double page, impelling the reader to turn the page to find out why the Fox has become part of that story. This book will provoke the readers to seek out the fairy tales mentioned and reread them as well. Teacher's notes are available and a video showing the author. Themes: Fairy tales, Fox, Twisted fairy tales, Hunger.