In this delightfully playful book whose story really begins on the front endpapers, Papa Fox searches for his little one. “Have you seen Baby, Mama Fox?” he asks on the first page and the response, “Why, Baby must be somewhere, Papa Fox” leads the male parent off, walking stick in paw, searching high and low in the countryside – up in the tree, inside a log, over the hill, down a hole, under the water and around the bend.
In each location he comes upon a decidedly un-foxy animal. Some respond politely to his question “ Ba-by! Are you … up in the tree?” for instance …
Whereas others such as a grumpy skunk with its “I am inside the log, but I am not your baby. Go away!” are rather rude and on occasion Papa Fox gets the shock of his life.
Totally at a loss, back goes Papa Fox empty pawed; and by this time if your audience hasn’t already yelled out, “Behind you” at the top of their voices they certainly will when he reaches Mama Fox again. Once reunited, it’s down to Baby to utter a final throwaway line …
Inevitably this will lead to cries of ‘Read it again” and you – like that Papa Fox, will happily oblige.
There’s so much to love about this hide-and-seek book: the dramatic irony of the whole tale; the entirely speech bubble text with its question and answer format; Anne Hunter’s superb, finely drawn pen and pencil, cross-hatched illustrations with that limited colour palette that grace every spread, the fact that youngsters will perceive that Mama Fox is playing along with her offspring and the unobtrusive lesson in prepositions.
Simple literary entertainment of the first order, methinks.