'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 8 October 2010

Review: Fox

I was extremely fortunate to meet Margaret Wild recently, and enjoy listening to her read from her many best selling books. This prolific and talented Australian children’s author has had the opportunity to work with an endless line-up of amazing illustrators – and in this tenth anniversary addition of Fox, her coupling with artist Ron Brooks produces a gorgeous book indeed.

I have a large collection of Wild books, but have only just recently read Fox for the first time. I had heard about it, yes, and just like movie trailers, I try not to listen too closely to what people say about a book before I dive in myself. I never want to be disappointed.

So did Fox disappoint? No, it did not. Visually resplendent and seemingly written in a stream of consciousness fashion, the flow and fable-like quality of the storyline pulls the reader in quickly.

When Dog and Magpie are caught in a bushfire, Dog saves the bird’s life and tends her burnt wing. Magpie knows she will no longer fly, but Dog becomes her wings, tearing through the forest and scrubland with Magpie on his back. Magpie is delighted and tells her friend if he will be her wings, she will be his missing eye.

The two are inseparable. Until lonely, sly old fox turns up and tempts Magpie away with him. But can Fox promise Magpie more?

Wild combines lusciously descriptive, abstract writing with a honed simplicity in Fox. She also gives the reader plenty of heart-stopping moments of suspense, and most importantly, gives us such deeply-embedded moral messaging, its almost imperceptible… just the way it should be.

Illustrations by Brooks are stricken with scratched, enriched colour, movement, suspense and emotion – the fox eyes peering through a ‘hole’ in the page perfectly capture its menacing ways, and frankly – really put a beat in your heart. Scratch-like typesetting further complements the earth-toned beauty, sending us straight to the Australian scrubland.

Subtle, striking, this story of friendship and betrayal is a modern day fable that will remain an Australian children’s classic.

Title: Fox
Author: Margaret Wild
Illustrator: Ron Brooks
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $27.99 RRP
Publication Date: June 2010
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9781742373195
For ages: 6 - 10
Type: Picture Book

Teachers' notes