Twice as Sweet – Picture Books by Mem Fox

Mem Fox is a legendary and much-loved Australian author, filling our homes with love and joy for more than 30 years. Just as endearing as her beloved iconic possum tale, Mem Fox introduces us to yet another two marvellous stories of fun, rhythm, exploration, imagination and reassurance.

imageThis & That with Judy Horacek, Scholastic Australia, October 2015.

When this quintessential duo that brought us classics including Where is the Green Sheep? and Good Night Sleep Tight pair up once more, you know you’re onto a winner. Little ones will be instantly drawn in by the appealing colours and cuteness gracing the cover and opening page. They’ll just as willingly be pulled along with the stimulating, repetitive phrase, “I’ll tell you a story of this, and I’ll tell you a story of that.” But the attraction doesn’t stop there. This is an adventurous and lively story of an adult and child journeying across wondrous lands and amongst exotic creatures and people. In collaboration, Horacek‘s illustrations present a spectacular array of colour, life and energy that you can’t take your eyes away from.

When mother and baby ‘rat‘ embark on their quest in a little, green box, you’ll never be more surprised at the fun that follows. Each turn, cleverly rhyming with the word ‘that‘, thrusts this pair into a new, imaginative scene. From encountering a chimp with a magic ‘hat‘, racing boys and their ‘cat‘, crazy giraffes on a ‘mat‘, kings and queens who ‘chat‘ and speckled hens who are terribly, terribly ‘fat‘. But at bedtime, with a twist of the recurrent phrase, mother safely settles her bub after this busy day with nothing other than a goodnight ‘kiss‘.

imageMem Fox‘s expert use of language keeps her listeners engaged until the very end. Together with Judy Horacek‘s child-friendly, bold and romping drawings, this book is a pure delight. There are a multitude of opportunites for little ones to use their imaginations, to explore the hidden, and familiar, details (including the subtle visual rhyming link of the main characters, and a well-known ball of wool!), and to simply just enjoy the ride.

This & That’ will have toddlers and preschoolers jumping at the chance to jaunt with these nimble rats again and again, knowing there is always a soft place to fall when the excitement is over.

imageNellie Belle with Mike Austin, Scholastic Australia, January 2016.

Again, utilising her winning formula of repetition, questioning and interactivity, Mem Fox introduces us to another fun-loving, audacious character in ‘Nellie Belle’. With a completely different illustrative style to Judy Horacek’s, Mike Austin‘s textured digitally-rendered images are certainly no less vibrant and engaging.

The sway of the verse is reminiscent of an old childhood song, and the illustrations have that retro-feel pop to them, too!

“Is it fun in the yard, Nellie Belle, Nellie Belle? Is it fun in the yard, Nellie Belle?”

imageWhen this canine pal catches a glimpse of the outside world through the fence, the michief begins. First she buries her beloved Ted amongst the flowers, then heads out to meet and greet some new faces in the street and on the beach. Playing chasey games with the seagulls and ball games with a seal, soon her fun is dampened. Nellie Belle finds herself confronted in a deep, dark spot amongst glaring possum eyes. In an energetic scamper back through the big, wide world, this spooked pup races straight into her bed (not before retrieving Ted from the yard, of course!).

The words and pictures marry beautifully with their crisp, patterned and cheery commonalities. ‘Nellie Belle’ is a vivacious read-aloud book that is perfect for toddlers eager to become their own independent, confident beings, with that added reassurance that their piece of comfort is always within reach.

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