Mother Fox and Her Cubs

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Mother Fox and Her Cubs
Amandine Momenceau
Thames & Hudson
Snow has fallen overnight and a mother fox is greeted by bright sunshine: time to check on her quartet of lively cubs, she decides. The cubs are in a playful mood and a game of hide and seek is on the agenda. Mother Fox searches and eventually, one by one, discovers the whereabouts of her mischievous offspring.

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Night falls and, game over, it’s time to return to the den. Which one of her cubs will secure the coziest spot? Well, they all look pretty snuggled to me …

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This simple story is transformed into a piece of picture book magic – a theatre almost – by debut artist, Amandine Momenceau. Using a limited colour palette, the artist creates a stark wintry landscape.
Her cut out shapes, die cuts and split pages serve to create and re-create the landscape, and allow readers to manipulate the story at their own pace.

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Particularly engaging is the large mother fox-shaped page used to stage a ‘look, he’s behind you’ episode

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The voice of Mother Fox forms most of the text, with occasional interjections from the cubs drawing the reader into the action right from the outset.
I’m sure this is a book that will be read over and over; the weight of paper used should ensure that it can withstand the many re-readings it deserves.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Walking in a Winter Wonderland
illustrated by Tim Hopgood
Oxford University Press
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?’ It’s almost impossible not to break into song on seeing those opening words to the seasonal favourite written down, and now illustrator Tim Hopgood has taken that ever-popular Christmas song (with some slight alterations) and turned it into an enchanting and truly joyful, snow-filled picture book experience for children and adults to share together.
As musical notes drift across every spread, we join a family of five walking …

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and playing …

in a woodland landscape populated by wild animals (foxes, deer, a squirrel and rabbits) and birds …

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Hopgood’s pastel and crayon scenes capture the magic of idyllic winter countryside with newly fallen snow, sledging, snowman building, and then the family snuggling up together in the warmth from a fire. I particularly love that musical note tree …

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and the endpapers too are lovely – so simple and SO effective.
To add to the delights, the book comes with a three track CD. The first track is the wonderfully jazzy rendition of the song performed by Peggy Lee, the second is a reading of the book with tinkling sounds to let you know when to turn the page, and the third a (somewhat superfluous) listening game.
A Christmas cracker.